Dec 8, 2009, 2:08 PM EST
Atlanta clearly wasn’t planning for Rafael Soriano to accept their arbitration offer, but now that he’s back in the fold–until they can find a trade partner, at least–the Braves cleared room for him on the 40-man roster by designating outfielder Ryan Church for assignment.
Church was acquired from the Mets in July for Jeff Francoeur and would have been in line for a raise on his 2009 salary of $2.8 million via arbitration, so in addition to clearing roster room for Soriano the move also saves the Braves a good chunk of change. Church struggles against lefties and is coming off the worst season of his career, but should have little trouble finding work on the open market.
He remains a solid platoon starter who’s hit .287/.357/.460 against righties over the past three seasons and plays good defense in either outfield corner. Cutting him loose seemingly increases the Braves’ odds of handing 20-year-old uber prospect Jason Heyward a starting job coming out of spring training, although there’s still plenty of time for Atlanta to pursue a short-term stop gap in right field.
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