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Braves sign Jason Kipnis to minor league deal with invite to spring training

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Kipnis will look to win the Braves’ backup infielder job this spring

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves have signed veteran infielder Jason Kipnis to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Kipnis first tweeted he was joining the Braves, while Jon Heyman added it was not a guaranteed big league contract. The terms of Kipnis’ contract should he make the big league roster were not immediately known.

Kipnis, who turns 34 in April, spent last year with the Cubs and performed decently after appearing in 44 games, batting .237/.341/.404 with a 103 wRC+ and 0.6 WAR. His strikeout rate was sky-high at 30% (compared to a career 19% average) although he also walked at the highest rate of his career (13.3%). Last season in Chicago was his first after spending nearly a decade in Cleveland.

Kipnis played second base exclusively with the Cubs during the shortened 2020 season with the exception of one game at first base. He has never been regarded as a strong defender, and he rates at -10 Defensive Runs Saved over his last 2,500 innings in the field. At this point in his career his defensive versatility is likely limited to the right side of the infield other than a “stand in the outfield and hope it doesn’t come your way” emergency situation. He did fill in center field on occasion with Cleveland as recently as 2018.

Kipnis joins a Braves bench that is in desperate need of depth. One would assume that as long as the wheels do not suddenly fall off during the month of March that Kipnis will find his way on the big league roster come opening day.