Free agent infielder Ryan Flaherty is close to signing a deal with the Braves, according to a report from MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Flaherty exercised the opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Phillies last week after it became clear that he wouldn’t break camp with the club. Any potential deal with the Braves has yet to be confirmed.
Flaherty, 31, finished off a six-year run with the Orioles in 2017. Thanks to a bout of right shoulder tendonitis, he was limited to just 23 games and delivered a .211/.302/.237 batting line and one extra-base hit across 43 plate appearances. While he’s never looked particularly fearsome at the plate during regular season play, he raked during spring training, slashing .351/.390/.514 with a single home run and a .904 OPS in his first 18 games.
Of course, the Braves didn’t pursue Flaherty for his bat. The veteran infielder grades well on defense and has proven his versatility around the horn, making it likely that he’d net a part-time role behind second baseman Ozzie Albies, third baseman Rio Ruiz (filling in for an injured John Camargo) and shortstop Dansby Swanson.
Braves 21-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. nabbed his 30th stolen base of the season on Friday, becoming the second-youngest player in Major League history to produce at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. Per MLB Stats, the only other player under 22 years old to pull off the feat is Mike Trout, who did so with 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases during his age-20 season in 2012.
Acuña’s triumphant moment came in the eighth inning of Friday’s game against the Mets. He drew a six-pitch walk against righty reliever Seth Lugo, then waited for an opportune moment as Ozzie Albies stepped to the plate. Lugo fired a 93-m.p.h. fastball to Albies for ball no. 2, which was promptly returned to second base by catcher Wilson Ramos. The throw came in high, however; Amed Rosario had to jump to make the catch, allowing Acuña to slide safely into the bag and hit his career mark.
It’s been an eventful season for the All-Star outfielder, whose 36 home runs and 30 stolen bases helps pad a .294/.377/.536 batting line and 5.1 fWAR over 597 plate appearances. Through the first 11 innings of Friday’s contest, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks and a stolen base.