As free agency heats up, the Atlanta Braves had made an early trade to acquire some bullpen depth. In a deal with the Texas Rangers, the Braves acquired RHP Dennis Santana in exchange for cash considerations. RHP Jackson Stephens was designated for assignment from the 40-man roster in order to make room for the transaction.
Intriguing Bullpen Piece
This is an interesting buy low piece for GM Alex Anthopoulos. Originally an international free agent signing of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Santana first debuted in 2018. Santana has been durable over the last two seasons, making 118 appearances for the Rangers during that time. Last season the veteran pitched 58 2/3rd innings across 63 appearances. Santana registered 20 holds and one save. He was particularly sharp in the first three months of the season pitching to the tune of a sub 2.00 ERA and holding opponents to less than a .200 average. A rough July led to an inflated ERA, but Santana ended the season with six straight scoreless appearances.
According to Savant, Santana’s uses a four pitch mix but typically relies on a slider sinker combo. Over the course of his career, he has averaged around a 12% whiff rate on all his pitches., and most encouragingly his groundball rate is around 50%. The Braves staff must believe he is closer to the pitcher who began and ended the season, than the one who struggled in July.
Atlanta Braves bid Farewell to Stephens
Jackson Stephens was a huge piece of the 2022 season that seemingly came out of nowhere. After not pitching at all in 2020, Stephens made the best of the only opportunity parleying an excellent showing in the Mexican League into a minor league deal with the Braves. Stephens was re-called from Gwinnet after Jacob Webb went down in the first week of the season and never looked back, holding together a bullpen that was struggling earlier in the season.