Yesterday, the Braves finally swapped their roster configuration for a more normal one, sending reliever Chris Withrow to AAA and attempting to recall Emilio Bonifacio from Gwinnett. On the face of it, that looked like a pretty by-the-book move that gave the team another bench option in lieu of the 13th member of the pitching staff.
However, it was not meant to be. There's a bit of an arcane rule on the major league books that a player released by a team may not be added back to that team's major league roster for 30 days. It says something (not entirely sure what), that no one wanted Bonifacio on their roster after the Braves released him during Spring Training after they had given him a $1.25 million dollar major league deal, but because Bonifacio re-signed with the Braves on a minor league deal subsequent to his release, he is essentially not eligible to play for the big league Braves until 30 days after his release. Or, if you just want to look at the tweets...
Bonifacio will not be eligible for activation until Saturday -- 30 days after the Braves released him (April 6).— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) May 1, 2016
Since Withrow already departed Chicago on his way to Gwinnett, the Braves will play a man down today, and a different player (presumably a bat, but perhaps Mike Foltynewicz, who appears to be potentially be slated to make tomorrow's start?) could be called up to take Withrow's place after the game.
MLB informed the Braves of this rule after the transaction was announced this morning.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) May 1, 2016
There are enough major league rules on the books that it's not surprising that teams occasionally run afoul of one or another. Furthermore, it's better that this mistake happen in a lost season than one where that 25th man could potentially be useful towards winning a meaningful game. Still, it's a little embarrassing, given that one of the responsibilities of the front office is to be on top of this stuff, or at least on top of this stuff enough that their hands don't get lightly slapped by MLB for running counter to established procedure.
Here's Braves assistant GM on the snafu, per Mark Bowman:
"It's sort of a convoluted rule from MLB... Because we signed [Bonifacio] to a Major League contract and then he was released at the end of Spring Training and he subsequently signed with us and not another club, we can't select him to the big leagues until 30 days after his release date... The Boni deal is a little bit unorthodox... I've never seen a guy get released from a big league deal, re-sign with the same team and end up in the big leagues a month later. It's kind of out of the ordinary."
The Braves will presumably be at full 25-man strength for the series opener with the Mets on Monday in New York.