Nate McLouth joins Jordan Schafer on DL for Braves

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Atlanta is down its top two center fielders after Nate McLouth was placed on the disabled list Friday due to a lower abdominal strain.

Jordan Schafer was previously placed on the DL on Wednesday because of a chip fracture in his left middle finger.

Taking McLouth’s place on the roster and making his major league debut in center for Atlanta tonight is minor league veteran Jose Constanza.  At 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, he becomes one of the tiniest players on a major league roster, and he has the power to match, as he had collected just seven extra-base hits — two doubles, four triples and one homer — in 333 at-bats for Triple-A Gwinnett this season.  He was hitting .312/.361/.351 with 23 steals in 31 attempts.

As a stopgap, a team could do worse.  Constanza will play pretty good defense and do his best to slap some grounders through the infield.  Still, the Braves have a greater need for an outfielder than ever now, and while Hunter Pence and Ryan Ludwick are supposed to be atop their list, a legitimate center fielder like B.J. Upton or Coco Crisp might do them more good.

 

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.