Sizing up the competition for spots on Braves’ bench

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves manager Brian Snitker comments on the competition for utility positions on the team ahead of full squad workouts in 2021 spring training.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Recent personnel moves have created competition for berths on the Braves’ bench, bringing several former big-league regulars to spring training to battle for backup roles.

“That’s kind of exactly what you’re looking for in these roles, kind of new roles in their career,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Monday. “That serves them well to have had that experience and (to have) been everyday players. I think it’s a pretty good group that we’ll evaluate and choose from.”

Assuming the Braves carry 13 pitchers, there will be five jobs available on the bench. One will go to a backup catcher. If center fielders Cristian Pache and Ender Inciarte are on the 26-man opening-day roster, that would leave three bench jobs to be contested among these eight players (and any subsequent additions):

PHILLIP ERVIN, OUTFIELDER

How acquired: Claimed off waivers Monday from the Chicago Cubs, who themselves had claimed him off waivers from Seattle two months earlier.

Age: 28.

Bats: Right.

Best season: Ervin had a .271 batting average, .797 OPS and seven home runs in 236 at-bats for Cincinnati in 2019.

Last season: He hit .149 in 74 at-bats with Cincinnati and Seattle.

Notable: Against left-handed pitching, he’s a career .277 hitter with an .811 OPS. Against right-handers, he’s a .230 hitter with a .678 OPS.

Chicago Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis fields his position against the Kansas City Royals Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
Chicago Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis fields his position against the Kansas City Royals Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

JASON KIPNIS, SECOND BASEMAN

How acquired: Signed as a free agent last week to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league spring-training camp.

Age: 33 (34 on April 3).

Bats: Left.

Best seasons: Kipnis made the American League All-Star team with Cleveland in 2013 (.284, 17 home runs, 84 RBIs, .818 OPS) and 2015 (.303, 9 homers, 52 RBIs, .823 OPS).

Last season: He hit .237 with a .744 OPS in 44 games (135 plate appearances) with the Cubs.

Notable: He started at second base for Cleveland for most of the 2012-19 seasons but hasn’t played any other defensive position in the big leagues except for 25 games in center field (2017-18) and one at first base (2020).

JAKE LAMB, THIRD BASEMAN

How acquired: Signed to a non-guaranteed one-year major-league contract Tuesday after agreeing to terms as a free agent Sunday.

Age: 30.

Bats: Left.

Best seasons: Lamb combined for 59 home runs and 196 RBIs in the 2016 and 2017 seasons with Arizona. He made the National League All-Star team in 2017 (.248 batting average, 30 homers, 105 RBIs, .844 OPS).

Last season: After struggling with injuries in 2018 and 2019, he hit .116 in 18 games with Arizona in 2020. The Diamondbacks released him Sept. 12, and he caught on with Oakland, hitting .267 with three homers in 13 games.

Notable: He’s a career .257 hitter (.805 OPS) vs. right-handed pitchers and a career .169 hitter (.599 OPS) vs. lefties.

Braves third baseman Pablo Sandoval heads to first base after Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Dustin May hit Sandoval with a pitch to load the bases during the eighth inning Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Game 1 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Braves third baseman Pablo Sandoval heads to first base after Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Dustin May hit Sandoval with a pitch to load the bases during the eighth inning Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Game 1 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

PABLO SANDOVAL, THIRD BASEMAN

How acquired: The Braves signed him in September after he was released by San Francisco and re-signed him last month to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Age: 34.

Bats: Both.

Best seasons: A career .279 hitter with 149 home runs across 13 seasons with the Giants and Red Sox, Sandoval is a two-time All-Star (2011, 2012), a three-time World Series champion (2010, 2012, 2014) and a one-time World Series MVP (2012).

Last season: He was hitting .220 with a .546 OPS in 90 plate appearances when the Giants released him Sept. 10. After a couple of weeks at the Braves’ alternate training site in Gwinnett, he was activated for the regular-season finale. He went 0-for-2 in that game and 0-for-3 in the postseason.

Notable: He has a career OPS of .817 against right-handed pitching, .661 vs. lefties. Although primarily a third baseman, he also has played first base.

JOHAN CAMARGO, INFIELDER

How acquired: He has been in the Braves’ organization since signing at age 16 as an international free agent in July 2010.

Age: 27.

Bats: Both.

Best season: Camargo thrived as the Braves’ starting third baseman for most of the 2018 season, hitting .272 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Last season: He struggled in a bench role for the second consecutive year, hitting .200 in 120 at-bats.

Notable: In the past two seasons, he has seen action at third base, shortstop, second base, first base, left field, right field and designated hitter.

Third baseman Johan Camargo prepares to field a grounder during spring training work February 2020 in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com)
Third baseman Johan Camargo prepares to field a grounder during spring training work February 2020 in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com)

EHIRE ADRIANZA, INFIELDER

How acquired: Signed as a free agent last month to a minor-league contract with a spring-training invitation.

Age: 31.

Bats: Both.

Best season: Adrianza hit .272 in 83 games (236 plate appearances) with Minnesota in 2019.

Last season: He hit .191 in 44 games (101 plate appearances) with Minnesota.

Notable: He has played mostly shortstop with the Giants (2013-16) and Twins (2017-20), but also has seen action at third base, second base and first base and in the outfield.

JACK MAYFIELD, INFIELDER

How acquired: Claimed off waivers in November from Houston.

Age: 30.

Bats: Right.

Best seasons: Mayfield showed power in the minor leagues, hitting 62 home runs across the 2017-19 seasons in Double-A and Triple-A.

Last season: He hit .190 in 21 games (47 plate appearances) with Houston last season after hitting .156 in 26 big-league games the year before.

Notable: In limited big-league time, he has played mostly shortstop but also second base and third base.

Houston Astros shortstop Jack Mayfield dives for a ground ball single by New York Mets' Michael Conforto during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
Houston Astros shortstop Jack Mayfield dives for a ground ball single by New York Mets' Michael Conforto during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

ABRAHAM ALMONTE, OUTFIELDER

How acquired: Signed as a free agent in October to a non-guaranteed major-league contract.

Age: 31.

Bats: Both.

Best season: Small sample size, but Almonte hit .290 with a .969 OPS in 38 plate appearances with Arizona in 2019.

Last season: Appeared in seven games, going 1-for-11, with San Diego.

Notable: The Braves would be his sixth big-league team since he debuted with Seattle in 2013.

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