It’s rarely a boring evening for the Braves during the 2024 offseason, apparently:
The Atlanta Braves are acquiring infielder David Fletcher and catcher Max Stassi in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for first baseman Evan White and right-handed reliever Tyler Thomas, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2023
Let’s take this move one player at a time.
The 29-year-old Fletcher is a veteran of six MLB seasons with Anaheim, where he has compiled 7.3 fWAR in 2,180 PAs. However, he’s only managed 1.5 fWAR over the last three seasons, including 0.0 last year, where he spent much of the year playing in Triple-A. Fletcher is an extreme slap hitter who is antithetical to the Braves’ approach, so his acquisition is more than a little humorous. He’s generally rated as a strong defender around the infield, so the Braves may have acquired him mostly for defensive/Nicky Lopez replacement purposes.
Fletcher is owed $14 million at this point, which includes $6 million for 2024, $6.5 million for 2025, and a $1.5 million buyout on an $8 million club option for 2026. If somehow, the Braves actually exercise that option, there’s an $8.5 million club option with another $1.5 million buyout for 2027.
Max Stassi is maybe the most interesting piece of this deal, because he’s generally been a decent second catcher, and, well, the Braves already have two catchers. Stassi has amassed 6.2 career fWAR in 1,285 PAs spanning ten MLB seasons. However, he was replacement level due to some terrible hitting in 2022, and then missed all of 2023 due to a combination of a hip injury suffered in Spring Training and a family medical issue that saw him land on the restricted list. It seems like the Braves will look to move Stassi and his $7 million salary for 2024 to another team — he also has a $0.5 million buyout on a $7.5 million club option for the 2025 season.
As for the Angels’ return, well, it’s not too much considering the Braves aren’t really getting particularly value-positive assets. Evan White, a Brave for only a few days, will now head back to the West Coast. It’s not clear whether any money is changing hands in this deal at this time, but if none is, then the Braves are acquiring $14 million in obligations for Fletcher and $7.5 million for Stassi, and sending out White’s $17 million in the process. If no money is changing hands and the Braves are able to move Stassi and his entire salary, then they’ll actually save some money with this move — but it remains to be seen whether anyone will want to pay Stassi the full $7.5 million (inclusive of buyout) for 2024, given that he last had positive fWAR (albeit 2.9 of it) in 2021.
The Braves are also sending Tyler Thomas to Anaheim in this deal. Thomas was their selection in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, and it’s hard to see him as anything but a throw in given that the Angels could’ve just taken Thomas themselves had they wanted to.
Stay tuned for more, as the Braves will probably keep making moves like this unless they’ve decided to transform their catcher dyad into a veritable miniature hydra of sorts.