Last night, the Braves swung a bit of an odd trade with the Los Angeles Angels, sending Evan White and Tyler Thomas to the Angels for infielder David Fletcher and catcher Max Stassi.
The Braves already have a pair of catchers in Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud, so they’ll likely look to move Stassi, who is slated to make $7 million this season. It’s a similar situation to what they did with Marco Gonzales, and with a paucity of FA catchers, it should happen.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2023
My first thought was the Braves were able to somehow get out from under the remaining $15 million they owed Evan White over the next two season, but that’s not exactly true.
David Fletcher is owed $6 million this year and $6.5 million in 2025. He also has two $8 million club option for 2026 and 2027 that come with $1.5 million buyouts. Alone, his salary pretty much matches up with White’s, and the Braves also took on Max Stassi, who is owed $7 million next year and has a $500,000 buyout for 2025.
Of course, as Passan notes above, the Braves plan on moving Stassi, but what they do with Fletcher is intriguing. He’s cut from the same cloth as Nicky Lopez, able to play all over the infield. His best season came back in 2019 when he recorded a .290 batting average, 96 wRC+ (4% below league average), and 3.1 fWAR. Fletcher could become the Braves utility man, and since White was never likely to contribute in Atlanta, that’s a decent swap as long as the Braves can move Stassi in a separate trade.
However, if Fletcher remains with the Braves, what does that mean for Vaughn Grissom? He now becomes even more expendable. My guess is that one of Grissom or Fletcher is moved before the start of the season. Grissom could be a centerpiece of a trade for the starting pitcher the Braves have hunted all offseason. Fletcher won’t fetch much of a return, but the Braves shouldn’t have too much of a problem moving his salary if need be.
Overall, this trade should be viewed as a win for the Braves. I didn’t think they would be able to move off Evan White’s contract. They did, and they should be able to trade Fletcher and Stassi in separate deals like they did Marco Gonzales earlier in the week. That would mean the Braves essentially acquired Jarred Kelenic from the Mariners for Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips, making that trade even more of a steal.
Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire