The Atlanta Braves had a 10-day window to either trade, place on waivers, or release Juan Francisco after designating the third baseman for assignment. On Monday, the Braves found a trading partner as they sent Francisco to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Double-A pitcher Tom Keeling.
The Braves decided last Thursday that they needed to bolster their bullpen by promoting Alex Wood to the major leagues. That left Francisco as the odd man out as the Braves were unwilling to depart with either veterans Gerald Laird or Reed Johnson.
Francisco began the year in a platoon starting role with Chris Johnson at third base. Francisco got off to a solid start, hitting .298 with a .828 OPS, four home runs and 11 RBIs in April. However, he followed that up by hitting .159 with a .479 OPS and just one home run while striking out 19 times in May — enough for general manager Frank Wren to part ways with the slugger.
In Keeling, the Braves picked up another left-handed relief pitcher as they search for a replacement for Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters. Keeling has compiled an 0-1 record and 3.18 ERA in 17 innings for Double-A Huntsville. He’s posted a 1.471 WHIP, struck out 10.1 batters every nine innings and 1.9 batters per walk.
The 25-year-old was drafted in the 18th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2010 draft as a lefty specialist out of Oklahoma State. Keeling features a low arm angle that can be tough on left-handed hitters.
The Braves now have Wood, Keeling and newly acquired Joe Beimel as potential left-handed replacements in the bullpen in 2013.
Keeling will begin with the Braves in Double-A Mississippi.