In what has become the new normal during the recent rebuilding process, the Atlanta Braves traded veteran closer Jason Grilli to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitching prospect Sean Ratcliffe. The Blue Jays also got a little over $2 million to cover Grilli’s salary.
Ratcliffe, 21, was drafted in the eighteenth round in 2013 by the Blue Jays and had a 3.60 ERA in his time with Class A Vancouver last season according to MLB.com. He also had 30 strikeouts in 40 innings. Braves general manager John Coppolella told Fox Sports that the team’s focus has been on young pitching.
“We want to go with young pitching,” Coppolella said, according to Fox Sports. “What we’ve tried to do in a year like this is find out what we have with the young arms that we have here.”
To no one’s surprise, the Braves lead the league in innings pitched by players under 25 years old as they gear up for the 2017 season at SunTrust Park. Coppolella hopes that Ratcliffe will also help the team in the future.
“We had seen him two weeks back, and our scouts who saw him thought he could help the Braves organization,” he told ESPN. “We’d like to see him throw for us first and then go from there and see where he can help us.”
Grilli had been struggling this year as he returned from an Achilles injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season. He is 1-2 so far this year with a 5.29 ERA and two saves according to ESPN. His replacement, 25 year-old Arodys Vizcaino, has a 1.66 ERA and six saves for the Braves who are keeping with the youth movement.
Toronto general manager Ross Atkins told MLB.com that he thinks the veteran Grilli, who has played with now nine different teams, will better help the Jays’ bullpen as they hope to make a run at the postseason.
“We’ve been looking for help from the day I got here to complement our team,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “There is a lot that we like about Jason and how he complements this team, and the first thing that comes to mind is experience.”
Ratcliffe will go to the Braves’ extended spring training program to be looked over before being assigned to the minor leagues, and Atlanta has called up Ryan Weber from Gwinnett to fill Grilli’s roster spot.
Fans will have to be patient as the Braves rebuild from the ground up, and Ratcliffe could be another piece to the puzzle that is the future.