The Atlanta Braves designated third baseman Juan Francisco for assignment on Thursday, in a move that opens up a 40-man roster spot for the promotion of 22-year old lefty Alex Wood. The move was first reported by David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Wood, who has pitched to a 4-2 record and 1.26 ERA in ten starts with AA Mississippi, was rated by Baseball America as the Braves' seventh best prospect in December. He was the team's second round pick in 2012, and is the first Brave from his draft class to reach the major leagues. For the time being, Wood will join the Braves' bullpen to replace injured lefties Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters, who are shut down for the season due to Tommy John surgery. As Wood continues his development, the team's plan is still to use him as a starter in the longterm.
Francisco, a veteran of five major league seasons with the Reds (2009-2011) and Braves (2012-2013), has appeared in 35 games at third base for the Braves so far this season and has posted a .241 batting average with 5 HR and 16 RBI. The team's original plan was to have him platoon with Chris Johnson, but Johnson's early season success (.346/3 HR/14 RBI) made Francisco an expendable asset for Atlanta when the 40-man roster decision had to be made.
The Braves have ten days to trade, release, or outright Francisco if he passes through waivers, but according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, they are already in talks with multiple clubs who are interested in trading for him. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn't see a Reds reunion in the cards for Francisco, but other reporters have speculated that the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Royals could be among the teams interested in his services. Back in December, both the Rays and Marlins were interested in acquiring Francisco (according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com), so those teams may re-visit the idea of adding the 25-year old third baseman.