The Braves found their temporary replacement for injured first baseman Freddie Freeman on Saturday when they acquired veteran Matt Adams from the Cardinals in exchange for 19-year-old infield prospect Juan Yepez.
Adams, 28, has played in 486 games for the Cardinals since 2012 and hit .271 with a .315 on-base percentage and .453 slugging percentage. He’s started 331 games at first base.
Braves general manager John Coppolella said Adams is expected to fly to Atlanta on Sunday morning and join the team in time for the game in the afternoon.
“We hate to trade prospects, but this is something for our players, for our fans,” Coppolella said. “I think that our ownership really stepped forward here to take on money and give up a really good player. We are trying to win right now. We’ve played really good the past two weeks. We feel like we have a chance to win each night, and this will help make us better.”
Freeman is expected to miss at least 10 weeks after he suffered a fractured right wrist when hit by a pitch during a game on Wednesday. After producing the best season of his career in 2016, Freeman has been one of the best hitters in the majors this year with a .341 average, .461 on-base percentage and a league-leading 14 home runs.
Adams started 132 games for the Cardinals in 2014 and has platooned for them since then. This season he’s made two starts at first base and five in left field among 31 games played.
Adams, who bats left, has hit just .210 with a .240 OBP against left-handers during his career. Coppolella said it’s up to manager Brian Snitker how to use Adams, but noted that the Braves are scheduled to face right-handers during the remaining five games of the homestand.
Jace Peterson has manned first base since Freeman went down. The Braves singed veteran James Loney to a minor-league deal the day after Freeman’s injury and later promoted Carlos Franco to Triple-A Gwinnett as another potential option.
Coppolella said the Braves opened trade discussions with the Cardinals on Thursday, and now that they acquired Adams Loney will stay with Triple-A Gwinnett.
“We wouldn’t have signed James Loney if we thought the trade would happen,” he said. “Now that we had a chance to get a player like Matt Adams, we feel it’s a way it’s going to help make us a better club for right now.”
The Braves also received cash from the Cardinals as part of the deal. Adams will make $2.8 million this season and is arbitration-eligible in 2018.
Coppolella has identified the bench as a weakness for the Braves. They now have the option of keeping Adams as a reserve through next season.
“That’s something that’s great for us,” Coppolella said. “He’s a player who can play first base, he’s also played left field, he’s a good bat off the bench. He will help us even when Freddie Freeman comes back to the Braves.”
The Braves signed Yepez as an amateur free agent in 2014. The infielder began this season with Single-A Rome and has hit .281 with a .335 OBP over three seasons in the minors, including .269/.313 at the Single-A level.