Baseball

The Atlanta Braves have released a former first-round pick

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Aaron Blair throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, May 28, 2016, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Aaron Blair throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, May 28, 2016, in Atlanta. AP

The Atlanta Braves released pitcher Aaron Blair on Thursday. The decision to cut Blair comes a little over a month after the 26-year-old right-hander had shoulder surgery to repair a capsule tear and a damaged rotator cuff.

Blair was released in order to open a 40-man spot on the Braves roster for outfielder Peter Bourjos, who was called up as a reserve outfielder after Ronald Acuna’s injury.

Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O. Brien, “The Braves could’ve opened a spot on the 40-man roster by placing Blair on the 60-day DL, but doing so would’ve required them to recall Blair from the Triple-A DL in order to put him on the major league 60-day DL, in which case he would have been paid a major league salary and also accrued a full season of service time.”

Blair did not pitch at all at the major-league level in 2018. He appeared in only one game for the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers, pitching 2.2 innings with no earned runs and three strikeouts.

A first-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2013 MLB Draft, Blair was traded by the Diamondbacks in a package including center fielder Ender Inciarte and shortstop Dansby Swanson to the Braves in December 2015 for pitcher Shelby Miller and minor-league pitcher Gabe Speier.

Per FanGraphs, Blair was the fourth-best prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization at the time he was acquired.

Blair made his MLB debut with the Braves on April 24, 2016. He posted a 2-7 record with a 7.59 ERA and 46 strikeouts in his rookie season in Atlanta. In the 2017 season, Blair only made one appearance for the major-league squad.

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