The Atlanta Braves decided to bring back last seasons long relief option in the bullpen, Jackson Stephens, on a one-year non-guaranteed split contract for the 2023 season. While it isn’t the move that the Braves’ fanbase is has been clamoring for this offseason, it does give the Braves some depth in their bullpen.
This recent move means the Braves 40-man roster is now full. It was just over a month ago that Stephens was DFA’d after the Braves acquired right-handed reliever Dennis Santana from the Texas Rangers. If Stephens makes the big league roster out of spring training he will earn $740,000.
However, the 40 man roster being full does not mean that the Braves are done making moves this offseason. The Braves could simply remove a player from the 40 man to make room if need be and there certainly does seem to be some fat on the roster that could be trimmed.
Jackson Stephens is a familiar face for the Braves with a fun story
Stephens found success as the mop-up/long relief option for manger Brian Snitker last season. He finished the season with a 3.69 ERA, 3.54 FIP, and 0.4 fWAR in 53.2 innings pitched. Stephens will join an already talented and deep bullpen Alex Anthopoulos has assembled for the upcoming 2023 season.
Stephens was also a fun story from the get-go. Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds way back in 2012, ended up having to ply his trade in the Mexican League before landing back in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves for the 2022 season. There were stretches during the 2022 season where Stephens gave some key innings, although he certainly faded down the stretch a good bit.
It’s no guarantee Stephens’ makes the big league club out of spring training, but as we know a 162 game season often requires help from the entire 40-man roster and more. Regardless if he makes the club out of spring training or not, the familiarity for both the team and the player seems like a win-win as of now.