Braves acquire bench piece in Doumit

The Braves have acquired Ryan Doumit from the Twins for Sean Gilmartin, first reported by Yahoo's Jeff Passan.

 

Doumit will likely serve as a bench bat with the occasional start at catcher or a corner fielding spot. He's a career .268/.329/.438/.332 wOBA/104 wRC+ hitter while playing mostly catcher in his career between the Pirates and Twins. He hit .247/.314/.396/.311 wOBA/95 wRC+ in 538 plate appearances this past season for Minnesota, hitting 14 home runs with a 9 percent walk rate.

 

Doumit is two seasons removed from a .332 wOBA, but his best season came in 2008 when he had a .369 wOBA and was worth 3.1 fWAR. While those days are over, Doumit can still be a valuable piece for a Braves bench that lacked options this past season.

 

Doumit has been a better hitter from the left side in his career, recording a .339 wOBA as a left-handed batter compared to .315 from the right side. But the numbers aren't enough to make him a weakness against left-handed pitching. In fact, he had much better numbers against left-handed pitching in 2013. The Braves should feel confident batting him from either side in a pinch.

 

One downside to this deal is Doumit is below average at every defensive position he plays. He is consistently rated as one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball both in numbers and the eye test. So the Braves should limit the amount of time he's in the field. Atlanta will use it to its advantage by pinch-hitting with Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird when the situation arises, but the Braves need to limit their dependence on Doumit's defense.

 

Doumit will make $3.5 million in 2014, the final year on his contract. That's a pretty good rate for a bench bat with league-average career numbers at 33 years old. No issues there.

 

The Twins are receiving left-hander Gilmartin, who was not long ago considered one of the best pitching prospects in the Braves system. Baseball Prospectus ranked him sixth in the system coming into 2013, saying the following: "The stuff is average to solid average, but he makes it work by moving the ball around and changing speeds, keeping hitters from sitting on his upper-80s/low 90s fastball. It’s not a sexy profile, but dependable innings eaters have a lot of value, and Gilmartin looks like a safe bet to live up to that prophecy."

 

Gilmartin ran into all sorts of problems in 2013, the biggest being a left shoulder injury that limited him to 91 innings at Triple-A Gwinnett. He struggled maintaining velocity, and the injury affected his command, getting knocked around for a 5.74 ERA and only 15.8 percent strikeout rate. It was basically a lost season for the 23-year-old.

 

Gilmartin still has a fastball that can reach average to pair with an above-average to plus changeup. His breaking ball flashes plus but sits average to above average. He's the typical left-handed command profile expected to eat innings at the back of a rotation, which has its value. But a ceiling 4 and realistic 5/long man is basically worth what the Braves got in return.

 

The Braves did well to get a reliable bench bat for a pitching prospect coming off a lost year. Gilmartin still has plenty of time and talent to become an innings-eater in a major league rotation, and I'm sure the Braves wish him the best in that role. But Atlanta needs options after having a weak bench this past season, and this provides it.

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