The Braves announced Monday that they’ve acquired an infielder Ehire Adrianza from the Nationals in exchange for a minor league outfielder Trey Harris. In a corresponding roster move, Robinson Cano has been designated for assignment.
It’s Adrianza’s second stint with the Braves, as he also filled a utility role for Atlanta just last season. The veteran switch-hitter slashed .247/.327/.401 in 209 plate appearances for the Braves and appeared at six positions last year. Thus far in 2022, however, he’s mustered only a .179/.255/.202 output in 94 trips to the plate.
That rough stretch at the plate notwithstanding, Adrianza has a track record of at least passable, if unexciting, production at the plate. From 2016-21, he turned in a combined .252/.318/.381 batting line over a much larger sample of 1169 plate appearances. He doesn’t have plus defensive grades at any position, but Adrianza also won’t be a liability anywhere in the infield. For the time being, he can help bridge the gap at second base while the team awaits Ozzie Albies‘ return from a broken foot. As of two weeks ago, Atlanta was targeting a mid- or late-August return for the two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner.
In return for Adrianza, who’ll be a free agent at season’s end, the Nats will pick up the 26-year-old Harris, who previously ranked in the middle tier of the Braves’ top 30 prospects but has fallen off with some rough showings in Double-A. Baseball America twice listed Harris in Atlanta’s top 30 (No. 21 in 2020 and No. 26 in 2021), and FanGraphs pegged him as the system’s No. 16 prospect in March 2021. Harris was a senior sign out of Mizzou in the 32nd round of the 2018 draft and hit well through the 2019 season, topping out with a .281/.318/.411 showing in that hitter-friendly setting during his 2019 debut there.
There was, of course, no minor league season in 2020, however, and Harris has struggled in his second and now third trips through the Double-A level. After batting .247/.317/.354 in 405 Double-A plate appearances last year, he’s at .238/.328/.323 so far in 2022 (220 plate appearances). That’s a far cry from his earlier career performance, which saw him hit .300 and OPS north of .800 in each of his first two professional seasons. Scouting reports on Harris peg him as a corner outfielder — likely left field — with some power to his pull side, but he obviously has a ways to go to rebuild some of his prospect stature.
As for Cano, this is now the third team to cut bait on him this season. He’s already been released by both the Mets and the Padres, and the former All-Star’s brief nine-game showing didn’t do much to inspire confidence in an eventual rebound. Cano went just 4-for-26 with three singles, a double, a walk and four strikeouts in his brief time with the team. He’s now hitting .150/.183/.190 through 104 Major League plate appearances in his return from a 162-game PED suspension last year. The Braves can technically trade Cano up until tomorrow’s deadline, but it’s very likely that they’ll instead just release him.