The Braves announced this evening they’ve signed reliever Jackson Stephens to a one-year contract. It’s a split deal that pays him at varied rates depending on whether he’s in the majors or minors. Stephens secures a 40-man roster spot, bringing Atlanta’s roster to capacity. Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link) the 28-year-old will be paid at a $740K rate for any time spent in the majors.
Stephens is coming off a solid season in the middle innings for Atlanta. He was called upon by skipper Brian Snitker for 39 appearances out of the bullpen. Stephens tallied a career-high 53 2/3 innings while posting a personal-low 3.69 ERA. His 20% strikeout rate was a bit below average, but he generated grounders at a solid 46.3% clip. Stephens averaged 94.1 MPH on his fastball with high-end spin but mid-tier velocity on his 76.8 MPH curveball.
That marked the Alabama native’s first MLB action in four years. He’d previously pitched with the 2017-18 Reds. He spent 2019 in Triple-A, didn’t pitch with the cancelation of the minor league season the following year, then spent 2021 in Mexico. Stephens returned to affiliated ball on a minor league deal with Atlanta during the lockout. He cracked the MLB roster a week into the season and spent the rest of the season in the majors.
After acquiring Dennis Santana from the Rangers in mid-November, Atlanta designated Stephens for assignment. That was just days before the deadline for clubs to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible or pre-arbitration players. The Braves kept him in DFA limbo and non-tendered him, sending him directly into free agency without first needing to clear waivers. A month later, the front office circled back to bring Stephens back to the organization.
More to come.
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