Matt Adams came to the Braves as a midseason injury replacement for Freddie Freeman and put up solid numbers. However, with Freeman healthy, does he have a role in Atlanta?
What were the expectations?
Adams began the season in St. Louis where he was left without a role after the team shifted Matt Carpenter to first base during spring training. The team toyed with the idea of playing Adams in left field but that proved to be an experiment that they moved on from quickly, given some misadventures Adams experienced out there.
Adams saw just 48 at bats in just 31 games for the Cardinals hitting .292/.340/.396. Interestingly his lone home run in a Cardinals uniform went into the ChopHouse at SunTrust Park on May 6 against the Braves.
Atlanta acquired Adams on May 20 in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Yepez. Adams filled in nicely and did his best Freeman impersonation in June where he hit .314/.377/.657 with 10 home runs in 27 games. It was that hot streak that led to the decision to move Freeman to third base when he returned from the disabled list in July. That experiment eventually ended and Adams found himself back in left field filling in for Matt Kemp.
Overall Adams appeared in 100 games for the Braves hitting .271/.315/.543 with 19 home runs and 20 doubles. Despite a hot start after he joined Atlanta, Adams was still susceptible to left handed pitching hitting just .180 in 61 at-bats. He hit .295 against right handers and connected for 17 of his 20 home runs when he had the platoon advantage.
Adams’ case will be one of the interesting storylines of the offseason for the Braves. They elected to hold on to him at the trade deadline in the hopes that there would be a bigger market for his services. Adams is arbitration eligible this offseason and will likely see a substantial increase in his salary in 2018.
The Braves could certainly use a player like Adams as a left handed bench bat. The idea of playing him in left field doesn’t excite but this is a team that up until this point has run Matt Kemp out there when healthy in an everyday role. Adams would provide insurance for Freeman should he be needed and a power bat off the bench.
Still, there is no clear cut role for Adams as long as Freeman stays healthy. For that reason, it may make the most sense for the Braves to see if they can move him before he goes to arbitration, or even after his salary for 2018 is locked in.