The Atlanta Braves brought back veteran infielder Ehire Adrianza for another season in 2023 in hopes that he could provide some infield depth. Despite making the Opening Day roster, Adrianza had little impact and his season was cut short due to injuries.
Atlanta signed Adrianza to a minor league deal that included an invite to big league Spring Training on December 16.
What were the expectations?
Coming inm the expectations were low. Adrianza was part of a large group of infielders that came to Spring Training in hopes of finding a bench spot or possibly a spot at Gwinnett. Adrianza did find his way onto the Opening Day roster, but not without some slight level of controversy. About a week after intimating that Vaughn Grissom or Braden Shewmake was going to break camp with the club, the Braves opted to send both to Gwinnett to start the season, with Orlando Arcia becoming the starting shortstop. One of the reasons given, at the time, was that the moves allowed them to maximize their depth by keeping Adrianza.
Adrianza was a serviceable bench piece in 2021 for the Braves (0.6 fWAR in 209 PAs), but was dreadful while battling through injury in 2022 (-0.5 fWAR). The Braves acquired him from Washington at the Trade Deadline, but he spent most of his second stint with the Braves injured. He was expected to be a rarely-used, replacement level-ish bench piece for 2023... and that’s pretty much what he was.
Adrianza slid in to the roster as the 13th position player, which as you will see throughout this recap series, basically had no role on the team. He ended up appearing in five games between Opening Day and May 5, when he was placed on the Injured List with elbow inflammation. Three of those appearances came after Orlando Arcia suffered a microfracture in this wrist and Grissom struggled defensively. Overall, he appeared in five games and was 0-for-10 at the plate with a walk, “earning” himself -0.2 fWAR on the year.
What went right?
Other than landing on the Opening Day roster, not much. Here’s him walking to load the bases, his only positive offensive result on the year.
What went wrong?
Adrianza hit the shelf on May 5 with elbow inflammation. He began a rehab assignment shortly after, but then suffered a shoulder strain and was transferred to the 60-day Injured List. He was on another rehab assignment when the season ended, but the Braves quietly activated him and designated him for assignment on September 25 and outrighted him a week later. At that point, he elected free agency, which is where he begins the 2023-2024 offseason.
His worst PA of the season, results-wise, was also his last, grounding out with the tying and go-ahead runs on base at Citi Field against the Mets:
The Braves ended up losing that game, the second one of a doubleheader, 5-3, as Adrianza was lifted for a pinch-hitter with one out and none on in the seventh.
Adrianza turned 34 in August and will probably be seeking a minor league deal again this offseason for yet another chance to prove himself in Spring Training. He has always been considered a good teammate so it won’t be surprising to see him latch on somewhere. Still, for a guy with an 80 wRC+ and 2.7 fWAR in his career, time may be running out. Adrianza has previously expressed an interest in coaching, and at this point, it’s fair to wonder when that transition is going to take place. He’s already signed up to play winter ball in his native Venezuela, though, so it may not be as soon as this coming year.