Braves’ demotion of Acuna makes economic (not emotional) sense

What the Braves did Monday does not mean that they have no desire to win this season. It just means they don’t have nearly as strong a desire about winning their first 12 games as you do -- because that’s not worth several million dollars.

Outfielder Ronald Acuna, who has stirred such a frenzy on a team generally devoid of frenzy that an online bookmaker listed MVP odds for him -- and I’m not making that up -- was reassigned by the Braves to their minor-league camp on Monday.

Well, of course he was.

Yes, we know that the 20-year old has been all that and a bag of wows. Acuna ranks second in the  major leagues in several (meaningless) statistical categories: batting average (.432), on-base-percentage (.519), slugging percentage (.727) and OPS (1.391), via the Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien. He has four home runs, a double, four walks, 11 RBIs and four stolen bases in a mere 44 at-bats.

So, yeah, Acuna has done more than enough to earn a roster spot. But by delaying his major league debut for two weeks, they postpone Acuna’s official service clock, effectively pushing back when he can become a free agent. I realize that’s the last thing most fans are probably thinking about in March 2018, but if this young player turns into what almost everybody believes he will turn into, you will be thankful for that extra season before he crushes the budget.

For those still having difficulty getting past this decision emotionally, make this your starting point: The Braves likely are not going to contend for a postseason berth in 2018. It’s a stretch to believe they will finish even .500, given questions about the starting rotation and the bullpen.

If the Braves were projected as playoff contenders, the outrage over relatively blowing off the first two weeks would be understandable. But, hypothetically, if Acuna is the difference between the Braves winning 73 games or 77 games, it’s not worth it. Between 73 games and 81 games? Still not worth it.

The Braves open the season March 29. Acuna is gone for now but he could be back up in the majors as soon as April 13, which coincides with the start of a road series against the Chicago Cubs. He would miss as few as 12 games and play as many as 150.

I can’t say at this time how that would impact his National League MVP odds of 250-1, which were put out by Bovada. But those odds were for amusement, anyway. I hope.

More on Acuna: Braves rushed Swanson, need to show patience with Acuna

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