A little bit of déjá vu here, as the Braves came to terms with Jordan Luplow on Wednesday. Unlike the one-year, $1.4M free-agent contract he signed with the Braves in December of 2022, this time around it is a minor-league pact that should give Luplow a real shot to compete for the fourth-outfield spot with the club.
Luplow was up for the same role with the Braves last year, but he ultimately lost out on the gig and was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. That lasted less than a week into the season, as he was placed on waivers to open up a roster spot for Dylan Dodd. Luplow would go on to be claimed by the Blue Jays and later spend time with the Twins.
Between those two stops, Luplow saw a total of 90 MLB plate appearances in 2023, posting a .208/.322/.325 slash line with a couple of homers and a couple of steals. He has never hit for a high average (.212) at the big-league level, but he is adept at working counts, drawing walks (11.9 BB%), and providing some pop (.210 ISO).
Luplow has enough range to adequately man both corner-outfield positions and even centerfield in a pinch. Perhaps his best asset, however, is the ability to mash left-handed pitching. Over the course of his MLB career, the 30-year-old veteran has put up a solid .833 OPS with 33 of his 47 home runs coming against southpaws.
With Forrest Wall, and his 15 career big-league plate appearances, in line to be the top backup outfielder for the Braves as things currently stand, most onlookers have been expecting general manager Alex Anthopoulos to add some additional experience, especially of the power-hitting variety, to the bench. Luplow may not be who fans had in mind, but he does check the boxes: capable outfield defense, power threat off the bench, and a seasoned approach at the plate.
If no additional moves are made to address the bench, Luplow will have a real chance to earn a place with the Braves this spring. Kevin Pillar proved to be a valuable role player last year. Luplow might just do the same in 2024.