Outfielder Zolio Almonte has elected free agency. Almonte was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett after failing to crack the Braves' Opening Day roster, but he has chosen instead to try his luck on the open market. He hit .245/.283/.265 in 49 spring at-bats.
The Braves sent outfielder Zolio Almonte outright to Triple-A Gwinnett Tuesday after Almonte passed through waivers unclaimed, MLB.com reports. Almonte was in the mix to receive playing time in the outfield at the outset of the regular season but couldn't land a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring. He hit .245/.283/.265 in 49 at-bats while collecting just one extra-base hit, a double. Almote can elect free agency rather than report to Triple-A, as this isn't his first time being outrighted off the 40-man roster.
The Braves have four candidates to replace the injured Melvin Upton Jr. in center field, the Atlanta Journal-Constition reports. Eury Perez, Eric Young Jr., Todd Cunningham and Zoilo Almonte all have a chance to win the team's center field job this spring while Upton, who is expected to be sidelined until at least early May, recovers from a left foot injury. "You're kidding anybody if you don't see it as an opportunity," Young said Saturday. "It's an unfortunate situation. Melvin hopefully gets healthy soon and gets back to playing the game that he loves the way I know he can. But in the meantime, I came into camp with a bunch of gloves, ready for whatever situation or scenario they threw at me. And right now with my speed, we've got a void in center and I've got this opportunity and just got to go out there and make the most of it." Perez may be the early favorite as the only natural center fielder of the bunch, but Young is the only player of the quartet with significant major-league experience. Cunningham is a career minor-leaguer and Almonte has limited experience in center field. "I think the other three guys have played (center) more than Almonte, but we'll see," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We'll run them out there and watch. Even E.Y. Jr. has got, I think, 30-some games in center field in the big leagues. Perez is a natural center fielder. (Braves third-base coach) Bo (Porter) had him with the Nationals and he really likes him as a defender."
The Braves are still interested in signing veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes, reports MLB.com. If the Braves sign Gomes, he could platoon with Zoilo Almonte in left field. In 2014, Gomes hit .234 with six home runs and 37 RBI.
The Braves announced Monday they signed outfielder Zolio Almonte to a one-year contract. Almonte has appeared in 47 games for the Yankees the last two seasons, batting .211 with two home runs and 12 RBI.