The Braves announced that they have claimed infielder Andrew Velazquez off waivers from the Angels and optioned him to Triple-A. To make room on their 40-man roster, they transferred right-hander Yonny Chirinos to the 60-day injured list.
Velazquez, 29, has been serving as a glove-first utility player in the big leagues dating back to his 2018 debut. He’s hit just .189/.244/.293 in 624 career plate appearances, including a line of .173/.264/.284 this year. But he’s played a considerable amount of time at shortstop, as well as lining up at second base, third base and in the outfield, generally getting good reviews for his glovework wherever he goes.
The Angels have fallen out of contention in recent weeks and have put many players on waivers, seeing Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, Matt Moore, Hunter Renfroe and Dominic Leone get claimed by other clubs last week. Those moves were primarily about clearing out salary and trying to get the club under the lowest threshold of the competitive balance tax.
It doesn’t appear that would be a factor with Velazquez, as he has yet to qualify for arbitration and is presumably making a salary near the league minimum. But he was recently optioned to Triple-A as the club is getting a look at rookie Kyren Paris at short, with the versatile Luis Rengifo also able to take over that position at times. Velazquez has surpassed three years of service this season and will qualify for arbitration for the first time this winter. He will also be out of options next year and need an active roster spot. Perhaps he has fallen out of the club’s long-term plans and they decided to see if anyone else wanted to give him a shot.
It seems Atlanta will be that club, adding Velazquez to their system for a bit of extra infield depth. Since he has been acquired after September 1, he won’t be eligible to play for them in the postseason, but could perhaps be of use if any of their regular players suffers an injury or simply needs a rest over the next few weeks. He can also be retained for three more seasons, though his impending arbitration and out-of-options status will make it harder for him to hold onto a roster spot going forward.
As for Chirinos, he was placed on the injured list August 20 with right elbow inflammation. It seems the club wasn’t expecting him back anytime soon, as he will now be ineligible to return until the middle of October. He could technically return to the club in the event of a deep postseason run, but it seems fair to deduce that his season is over.
It was a bit of a bounceback for him this year, as he hardly pitched over the 2020-2022 period due to various injuries but was able to throw 85 innings between Atlanta and Tampa this year, going from the former to the latter via a waiver claim. However, his 5.40 ERA and 14.4% strikeout rate were well below his marks of 3.85 and 21.5% in 2019. Like Velazquez, he is eligible for arbitration this winter and will be out of options next season.