The Braves were on the verge of not having a viable left-handed option out of the bullpen, and as only a week remains to Opening Day, general manager John Coppolella and the Braves front office must take action quickly.
On Sunday, the Braves made a move, acquiring left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash. The reunion with O'Flaherty is a step closer to solidifying a bullpen with many holes, as he recorded a 1.99 ERA in four seasons with the club (2009-2013).
However, O'Flaherty hasn't been the same lockdown setup guy as he was during his tenure in Atlanta, and manager Fredi Gonzalez is in pursuit of a dependable, consistent relief option. Therefore, Atlanta's search has not ended quite yet, and they are actively seeking a second option.
Luckily, two viable options just became available for Atlanta.
The Milwaukee Brewers granted a release to left-hander Franklin Morales, who hadn't allowed a single run while in camp with the Brewers.
LHP Franklin Morales has been granted his unconditional release.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) March 28, 2016
In his cup of coffee with Milwaukee, he made only four appearances this spring. The late arrival to camp may have played a role in pulling the plug so quickly on a reliever who looks to have some promise. Milwaukee may have had their bullpen vacancies filled, and Morales may have been a fallback acquisition, which was apparently unneeded.
Nonetheless, Morales' spring numbers further indicate how dependable he could be for a club. Against left-handed hitters, he held opponents to a minuscule .192 batting average. Atlanta hasn't had a dependable, go-to lefty in quite some time, and a potentially viable option like Morales wouldn't be a harmful or costly acquisition.
Along with Morales, the Braves could pursue left-hander Brian Duensing who was released by Kansas City on Wednesday.
#Royals have released P Brian Duensing and Peter Moylan as well as INF Clint Barmes from their minor league contracts.— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) March 28, 2016
Duensing had a long tenure with Minnesota, from 2009-2015. In his final season in Minneapolis, he held left-handing opposing hitters to a decent .288 clip.
The Braves are actively in pursuit of a late-inning lefty to take charge and hold leads late in ballgames. Morales and Duensing serve as two dependable and experienced options. John Coppolella has stated on numerous occasions that the Braves have placed a priority on improving the relief core, one that was a true disaster last season. Along with O'Flaherty, the two previously mentioned free agents are ones to definitely keep an eye on.