Braves Add Woodward

Yesterday, the Braves signed Chris Woodward to a one-year, $850K contract.

General manager John Schuerholz said the versatile veteran, who spent the past two seasons with the New York Mets, would fill a bench role and not be a candidate for the second base job that was vacated when the Braves didn’t offer Marcus Giles a contract. Woodward, 30, figures to be the primary backup to shortstop Edgar Renteria.

“We’ve been working on a lot of things you might characterize as bigger [than this signing],” Schuerholz said. “But Chris will play an important role for us. Our thing has always been to define guys that fit in and make the fabric of the team stronger. He fits that.”

“We’ve been working on a lot of things you might characterize as bigger [than this signing],” Schuerholz said. “But Chris will play an important role for us. Our thing has always been to define guys that fit in and make the fabric of the team stronger. He fits that.”

Why? A player like Woodward is worth about what he is going to get paid, but it’s hard not to find better alternatives in your minor league system for about half the price. Both Tony Pena and Pete Orr are cheaper utility men; and with Aybar in the mix, there are plenty of internal back-up options at shortstop.

One Response “Braves Add Woodward”

  1. Kevin Feasel says:

    I am merely happy that Woodward is (supposedly) not in the running for that Second Base job.

    But here’s my reasoning for why, now that he is (supposedly) not going to be a starter, Woodward could be a decent addition. His signing does two things: reduces Willy Aybar’s chances of getting stuck in a utility role, and provides a guy who has decent defense at several positions. Looking at the pre-Woodward options the Braves had, we basically see Pena, Orr, and Aybar. My ideal option would have been to add Wes Timmons to the 40-man roster and have him be the utility man, but apparently guys who play several positions and hit well shouldn’t have a job anywhere… And I do not count Martin Prado because he has been strictly a Second Baseman through his career, though he did spend a few games at Third in Atlanta last year.

    Pena has good defensive instincts at Short but, from what I remember, has never really played at any of the other Infield positions, so there would be a bit of a learning curve. Plus, he has no offensive talents of which to speak. However, he would probably be the man who, after Timmons (who, sadly, probably will never see a day in an Atlanta uniform), would be the best choice. Orr has trouble playing Third and cannot play Short, and has no offensive talents of which to speak, except that he’s pretty fast. Aybar, meanwhile, cannot play Short, but he would be a very nice fit a Second, given that he has on-base skills and could hit leadoff, as well as not being an embarrassment at the position. Thus, it would have been a bad thing to have Aybar be a utility infielder, and if Schuerholz’s statement is credible, this makes Aybar much more likely to get that Second Base job.

    So basically it boils down to three positives:
    1) Going from three utility infielders to one or possibly two (with Pena probably being the other), which opens up room to have Kelly Johnson on the 25-man roster
    2) This could force Aybar into a starting role, which would better utilize his offensive talents and keep somebody like Martin Prado from sneaking in there. Though I would also be happy with Kelly Johnson as the Second Baseman and Aybar as a 2B/3B/fill-in when Chipper misses a few weeks. As long as it’s not Martin Prado…
    3) The signing of Woodward almost definitely implies that the Braves won’t go out and waste more money on Mark Loretta or Ronnie Belliard or another such guy.

    So there’s my attempt at a defense of this deal. It’s not so much that Woodward is good (though he can actually play 2B, 3B, and SS, which is more any of the other options can say) as that he handcuffs John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, making it much more difficult to make a bad decision such as Prado or Loretta.