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The Braves announced that they have signed a contract with a foreigner Jordan Laplow. It’s a one-year contract worth $1.4 million.

Luplow, 29, has pitched in the last six MLB seasons, spending time in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Tampa and Arizona. He serves as a valuable part-time player at times, but his production has been pretty inconsistent.

He made brief appearances with the Pirates at the major league level in 2017 and 2018, but received a max extension with Cleveland in 2019. His 85 games played that season is still a career high, and he hit a whopping .276/.372/.551. That production was 41% above league average, as evidenced by his 141 wRC+. However, the vast majority of that damage came against lefties, as the right-handed hitter Luplow slashed .320/.439/.742 with the platoon advantage and just .216/.274/.299 without it. That led to extremely lopsided production, with a 205 wRC+ against southpaws but just 52 against righties.

He failed to carry that over into 2020, when his batting line slipped to .192/.304/.359 for a wRC+ of 84. He returned in 2021, which included a trade to the Rays. He finished that campaign with a .202/.326/.454, 116 wRC+ line. Oddly, his penchant for crushing lefties changed that season, as he produced a 95 wRC+ against them but 143 against northpaws.

The Rays traded him to the Diamondbacks until 2022, but he didn’t hit any pitchers this year. He finished the campaign with a .176/.274/.361 overall line. That was a 78 wRC+, 85 with platoon advantage, but 69 without.

Over 323 major league games, Luplow’s career total is about a league average hitter. He has a healthy 11.8% walk rate and 45 home runs for a career .213/.313/.432 batting line. That’s a 102 wRC+, or 2% above league average, 125 against southpaws and 76 otherwise.

Defensively, Luplow is considered average or better on turf. Defensive Runs Saved gave him a +4 for his outfield work, with an Ultimate Zone Rating of 10.3 and an Outs Average of a pair of zeroes. He has played more in the corners, but is capable of playing adequate center field on the fingers.

Atlanta’s outfield will consist of Ronald Acuña Jr right field and Michael Harris II in the center. Left field is more of an open question because both Eddie Rosario and: Marcell Ozuna Below-average in each of the past two seasons, despite Rosario’s postseason heroics. It’s possible that Luplow and the left-handed hitting Rosario could form a lefty platoon, though it’s also possible that Luplow serves as a fourth outfielder who gets the occasional start against certain lefties. Rosario’s career platoon splits are notable but not drastic, as he has a wRC+ of 108 against righties and 85 otherwise. Harris also hits from the left side and can be rested at times when the center gives way to Luplow.

2022 was Luplow’s first arbitration season and he earned a salary of $1.4 million. He was slated for a raise of up to $2MM by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, but the Diamondbacks assigned him in November. Luplow now commits to Atlanta in 2023 for exactly the same salary as this year. He will finish 2023 minus the six years of MLB service time needed to reach free agency, meaning Atlanta can keep him through arbitration in 2024 if they so choose. He also has one option remaining and could be sent to the minors as a depth prospect.

Although the salary is modest, it brings the club closer to luxury tax territory. Roster Resource currently pegs the club’s payroll at $197 million, with the competitive balance tax calculation at just $230 million. That leaves them just over $3mm short of CBT’s 233mm threshold.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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