Braves sign Josh Tomlin to minor-league deal

Righthander Josh Tomlin got the starting nod for the Braves Wednesday against the Royals in Kansas City. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Righthander Josh Tomlin got the starting nod for the Braves Wednesday against the Royals in Kansas City. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Braves re-signed reliever Josh Tomlin to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training on Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers reported to camp at the organization’s new facilities at CoolToday Park.

Tomlin, 35, was an important piece as a long reliever for the Braves last season. He appeared in 51 games, posting a 3.74 ERA and 1.122 WHIP across 79 1/3 innings.

“I’m excited about (getting him back),” manager Brian Snitker said. “I think everybody, you ask all the coaches, what he did for us last year, it’s hard to quantify in the new era with all the numbers, because he brings so much more than what you’d see if you just put him up on a board.

“The intangibles, the durability, the situations. He did everything. He started games, closed games, pitched huge (moments). I remember the game against the Padres, we bring him in with the bases loaded and nobody out and he gets out of it. Just everything that he brings, that intangible is hard to qualify. I’m really excited to have him back in the mix.”

The Braves stayed in contact with Tomlin throughout the offseason. General manager Alex Anthopoulos thought the team might re-sign him last Friday, but “there were a couple things in the air for him,” including Tomlin potentially receiving a guaranteed deal from another franchise, that delayed the process.

“I talked to him Friday, he was going to come back, then things changed Saturday, Sunday with some other clubs,” Anthopoulos said. “Ultimately, (Tuesday) night - he got some closure with other potential opportunities. I think his first choice was to always come back to Atlanta.”

Tomlin will compete to retain his long relief role. The bullpen is expected to be among the Braves’ greatest strengths after adding All-Star Will Smith to a group that included veterans Chris Martin and Darren O’Day, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene.