It was speculated that the Atlanta Braves had three spots available in their bullpen after the injury to Arodys Vizcaino. Cristhian Martinez has filled one of those spots, leaving two vacant spots. One of the prime candidates to get one of those spots was reliever Jairo Asencio. He was the reigning International League saves leader last season. What made him a shoo-in was that he was out of options. So, if the Braves did not carry him on their roster, he would be placed on waivers and be claimed by another organization for free.
The actions taken by the Braves this morning make the bullpen picture more clearer than it has been. They traded Asencio to the Cleveland Indians for cash on Thursday morning. Asencio had a stellar 2011 season for the Gwinnett Braves as he posted a 1.81 ERA with 27 saves, an 11.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 54 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year. His ability to strike out hitters at a high rate makes him valuable, even though he is prone to walking hitters as well.
What this means, which was affirmed by Mark Bowman of braves.com, is that Cory Gearrin and Yohan Flande have won the final two spots in the Braves’ bullpen. I speculated that this could be the case a few days ago as both Flande and Gearrin had the best springs out of any of the relievers competing for the jobs in the bullpen.
The only thing that stood between one of them making the team was Asencio and the fact that the Atlanta Braves would lose him if they put him on waivers. Needless to say, this is not an issue after the trade.
I wish Asencio luck in Cleveland. He will get a lot of work pitching in games that Derek Lowe starts and is knocked out of early.