We have our first surprising non-tender decision of the afternoon. Ahead of tonight’s deadline, the Atlanta Braves have decided to non-tender outfielder Charlie Culberson. The move was first rumored by MLB.com’s Mark Bowman and confirmed by Robert Murray.
It sounds like the Braves may non-tender Charlie Culberson before tonight's deadline. This would not be a popular decision. Culberson's value would seemingly be increased next year when the 26-man rosters are put in place.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 2, 2019
Braves non-tendering Charlie Culberson, according to sources.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 2, 2019
It’s an interesting move to consider from both sides. Culberson, 31, is a former first-round pick who has spent the past two years patrolling Atlanta’s outfield. This past season, he appeared in 108 games, slashing .259/.294/.437 with 35 hits, including five doubles, five home runs, and a pair of triples. He walked six times while striking out 44, making for an eye-popping walk-to-strikeout ration.
Culberson was projected to earn roughly $2 million in arbitration, and apparently the Braves decided it wasn't worth it, cutting ties with him in an apparent effort to open up a roster spot and/or extra salary. While not as crucial, it’s worth noting that Culberson was a fan favorite in Atlanta, so this move will likely startle plenty of baseball fans in Georgia.
Culberson will surely receive a major-league deal in free agency, but he will now need to add a new step to his offseason plans as he searches for a new job ahead of the 2020 season. (Of course, it’s possible he returns to Atlanta on a cheaper deal. Only time will tell.)