Bourjos, 30, was released by the Cubs on Friday. He had been in Chicago’s camp on a minor-league deal, and over 47 Cactus League plate appearances he posted a .326/.362/.372 slash line with two stolen bases. Despite his decent performance, the Cubs were unable to create a roster spot for him and released him under the terms of Article XX(B), a provision in the CBA that allows veteran non-roster players to explore major-league opportunities after they’re informed that they won’t make their current club’s Opening Day roster.
Bourjos, who has experience at all three outfield positions, should be a solid bench piece for the Braves this season. While he’s now into his 30s and lost some mobility after undergoing hip impingement surgery in 2014, he’s still an above-average baserunner and defender, having posted six defensive runs saved over 476 innings for the Rays last year. He’s not an exceptional hitter, having posted a .223/.272/.383 slash line with five homers last year, though he’s performed better when given everyday opportunities and has a respectable .241/.298/.382 line over eight big-league seasons. As the Braves wait to recall top prospect Ronald Acuna in order to gain an extra year of service control, it’s possible that Bourjos could see quite a bit of action in left field over the season’s first few weeks.
It should be interesting to see what kind of roster ramifications the late addition of Bourjos has for other players on the team. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman suggested Sunday that the addition of Bourjos — in addition to the signing of veteran utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who also signed a big-league deal with the Braves Sunday after being released from a minor-league deal with the Phillies — will likely prevent two non-roster players who had previously been projected to be on the roster — outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and utility man Danny Santana — from making the club. The deals will also likely crowd the bench in a way that will prevent veteran Chris Stewart, who was in Braves camp on a non-guaranteed major-league deal, from making the team as a third catcher.