The Braves had a clear technique in mind when they acquired Eli White, and they were eager to see his abilities in action. Regrettably, injuries had other strategies, as Michael Harris II suffered an early-season injury, which limited White’s chances to showcase his skills. In spite of this problem, White stayed identified to make an impact, however his minors season was ultimately cut short due to a series of injuries.
Soon before the calendar turned to 2023, the Braves obtained White from the Rangers in exchange for cash factors to consider. An 11th-round draft choice by the Athletics in 2016, White was traded to Texas in the Jurickson Profar/Emilio Pagan swap after the 2018 season.
White was a 40-man roster casualty in Texas, as he invested the latter part of the 2022 season on the 60-day Injured List, which ends when the offseason starts. The Braves, however, saw something they wanted to spend a 40-man spot on … a minimum of at the time.
What were the preliminary expectations? In his first 389 major league plate looks across 3 seasons, White defied expectations for a non-catcher player. Regardless of struggling at hitting with a 54 wRC+, he managed to accumulate a favorable fWAR of 0.6. This was generally due to his outstanding defense and baserunning skills. He contributed over one-third of a win in baserunning worth and a full win in protective worth. Particularly, he mastered the outfield, making 9 runs above average, even while playing some of that time in center field, all in less than a complete season.
When it comes to the truth that White couldn’t strike, well, it’s unclear whether there was any hope that the Braves could work their magic with him, due to the fact that practically everything offensively looked horrible. But you can do far worse than a bench guy who might be best-in-class at everything but striking, even if that guy only looks like an 0-0.5 WAR alternative because of how occasionally you need a speed-and-defense-only guy in today’s video game.
So the expectations were most likely that White would offer outfield depth, with potential for sneaky worth should his services be needed more often.
White had a nice proving in Spring Training, but was the victim of his own minors options, as he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett well before the Grapefruit League slate concluded. He didn’t really stay in Gwinnett long, though, as the Braves remembered him on April 7, after Harris went down with a back stress.
White actually stayed for 3 weeks, however only got into 6 video games, as Sam Hilliard took over center field duties. All but among those video games were begun by an opposing lefty, that is, White and Hilliard basically platooned in Harris’ lack.
White stopped working to satisfy his own subpar offending expectations throughout his 17 plate appearances, registering a wRC+ of 2. Upon Harris’s return, White was demoted back to Gwinnett, where he enjoyed consistent playing time up until catching injuries in the summer season. The Braves consistently required to maximize 40-man roster spots to accommodate their revolving door of starting pitchers, resulting in White’s release while he was sidelined with a shoulder injury in the minors. He was without delay re-signed to a minor league agreement three days later on, however did not see any more action for the remainder of the season.
What went right?
Not too much. The only real positives that stand out are:
White’s.299 xwOBA was still paltry, but way better than anything he had actually ever published before, which is pretty sad in and of itself. It also was available in just 17 PAs, so there’s very little to be said here.
White struck fairly well at Gwinnett (105 wRC+), which is probably why the Braves re-signed him and kept him in the company in spite of his hurt status.
His greatest WPA play of the year was really this walk (and not his only hit of the year) off Blake Snell, with the Braves currently up 2-0. They didn’t wind up scoring after the walk, thanks to a double play ball.