The Braves announced that right-hander Jackson Stephens was outrighted to Triple-A. The move was necessary to remove Stephens from the 40-man roster since he is out of minor league options, but the righty will remain in Atlanta’s organization.
Stephens first joined the Braves on a minor league deal last winter, and he ended up seeing quite a bit of Major League work in tossing 53 1/3 innings out of the bullpen (including three innings as the designated starter of a bullpen game at the end of the regular season). Stephens posted a 3.69 ERA and did an excellent job of inducing soft contact, even if his strikeout and walk rates were both below the league average.
It was a respectable showing for Stephens’ first MLB action since 2018 as a member of the Reds, and the performance earned Stephen a new contract with the Braves back in December. Since that deal was a split contract that wasn’t fully guaranteed, however, Stephens will only earn his $740K salary if he appears on Atlanta’s active roster at any point during the season.
Stephens didn’t acquit himself well in Spring Training, with a 33.75 ERA to show for 1 1/3 frames over two appearances of Grapefruit League work. (The Orioles tagged Stephens for five runs in one-third of an inning on March 13.) The outright assignment puts Stephens out of the running for a job in the Braves’ Opening Day bullpen, and the club also has another 40-man roster spot to work with in contemplating other moves. Most immediately, the Braves might have that space earmarked for one of Dylan Dodd or Jared Shuster, who are competing to be the team’s fifth starter.