Jack Wilson has seemingly been the cheap, light-hitting, veteran fallback plan for a handful of teams in the middle infield, but today he agreed to re-sign with the Braves after coming to Atlanta from Seattle in an August 31 trade.
Wilson gets a one-year, $1 million deal and Mark Bowman of MLB.com speculates that he’ll likely serve as the backup to Tyler Pastornicky, the 23-year-old shortstop prospect who’s in line to replace Alex Gonzalez as the Braves’ starter.
Pastornicky hit .314 in 117 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season, but his OPS was a modest .773 thanks to just seven homers and 32 walks. Of course, Wilson hit .243 with a .559 OPS last season, hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2007, and is no longer a standout defender, so if Pastornicky isn’t the Opening Day shortstop it will have more to do with his development than Wilson’s presence.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.