What does David Fletcher bring to the Atlanta Braves?

The Braves acquired versatile infielder David Fletcher in a trade with the Angels on Friday, December 8. His bat to ball skills and defensive versatility could make him a weapon for Atlanta.

Jun 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop David Fletcher (22) singles in the
Jun 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop David Fletcher (22) singles in the / John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta GM Alex Anthopoulos has yet to make the headline-stealing acquisition many fans have been seeking this offseason. That, however, does not mean the Braves front office has just been sitting idle since the 2023 postseason wrapped up.

Anthopoulos has been busy, including a deal made with the Angels this past Friday that brought over slick-fielding, contact-hitting David Fletcher from the West Coast.

Fletcher fills a definite need for the Braves: an experienced utility man who can skillfully cover multiple positions and hold his own at the plate. As a bonus, he is under team control for up to four seasons due to the five-year, S26MM contract he signed with the Angels back in April 2021. Fletcher’s deal also includes team options for 2026 ($8MM) and 2027 ($8.5MM).

Would Fletcher get a contract like that now from any team? That would be very unlikely given his lack of production with the bat around multiple injuries over the last two seasons. Since the beginning of the 2022 campaign, he has hit a mere .253 with only 15 extra-base hits across 325 MLB plate appearances.

Fletcher has maintained elite contact marks (87.8 Contact%, 93.7 Z-Contact%) and a promising line-drive rate (22.7%) despite the downturn in overall offensive production over the past couple of years. If he can avoid the injuries, those marks should result in Fletcher at least resembling the .280+ hitter he was during his first four seasons in the show.

Even though it was certainly a small sample size, Fletcher’s work with the bat late last season was encouraging. Over his final 48 plate appearances in 2023, he hit .286 alongside a .362 OBP with just three strikeouts. Fletcher was healthy and getting regular at-bats. The results followed.

As far as defense goes, Fletcher grades out above average at second, short, and third with significant experience at each position. He even has some familiarity with the corner outfield spots. In other words, Fletcher can provide various regulars a needed day off here or there, and, with unforeseen injuries simply being a part of the game, he is a more than capable replacement for longer stretches.

Another potential impact of the Fletcher addition regards the future of Vaughn Grissom with the Braves. Grissom is arguably Anthopoulos’ top trade chip right now, and the club NEEDS additional depth in the starting rotation. Fletcher’s presence on the roster – along with the years remaining on his contract – would make the loss of Grissom less concerning since the two feature a similar skillset and project for a similar role with the team in 2024 and possibly beyond.    

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