Braves cut Church to make room for Soriano

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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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.