ATLANTA, GA – Just 11 days after being non-tendered by the Braves, fan favorite Charlie Culberson returned to his hometown team on Friday, signing a Minor League deal with an invite to Big League camp. Many Braves fans were unhappy with the decision to let him walk on December 2, but now Culberson will have an opportunity to once again prove himself when the team heads south for Spring Training in North Port in two months.
The 30 year old super utility man saw just 144 plate appearances this past season and missed the final few weeks, including the Postseason with multiple fractures in his cheek after being hit in the face while trying to bunt in Washington in mid September. Culberson has offers from other clubs but opted to return to the Atlanta organization for 2020. One thing to keep in mind with Culberson is his versatility. Over two seasons with the Braves, he’s played every defensive position except catcher and center field. That versatility could be key going into the new year as rosters for the regular season will expand by one, to 26. That’s a part of a number of changes MLB will make this season, that also includes a minimum of three batters faced for relievers and a cap on the September call-ups. The later two are part of Major League Baseball’s effort to speed up the game.
Regardless of what the club does for the remainder of the offseason (and up to Opening Day for that matter), Braves fans certainly seem happy to know that Charlie Clutch is jack in the fold. Up next, third base/big bat for the middle of the order. Josh Donaldson remains the number one option but is reportedly seeking a four year pact. Will Alex Anthopoulos and company be able to meet his desires? That remains to be seen but either way, it’s imperative the club finds that protection for Freddie Freeman in the cleanup role.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and @BravesRadioNet.