Braves trade Grilli to Blue Jays for Minor Leaguer

Braves trade Grilli to Blue Jays for Minor Leaguer

ATLANTA -- Jason Grilli realized his goal to be on Atlanta's Opening Day roster this year. But as the season's first two months elapsed, the 39-year-old reliever provided constant reminders he is not the same reliable bullpen piece he was before he tore his left Achilles tendon in July.

After spending the past couple of weeks discussing their option to release Grilli, the Braves instead got something in return when they traded him and cash to the Blue Jays on Friday for Minor League reliever Sean Ratcliffe.

Financial specifics were not immediately revealed, but the Braves will be responsible for a prorated portion of Grilli's $3.5 million salary.

Accounting for the financial elements of the deal, the Braves were simply willing to get something in return for a pitcher they likely would have released in the near future.

"We saved some [money], but that wasn't the main reason for the trade," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "The main reason for the trade was to give opportunity to our young arms."

The Braves are hoping to activate a pair of right-handed relievers -- Jim Johnson and Shae Simmons -- from the disabled list within the next couple of weeks. In fact, all indications are that Johnson could join Atlanta's 'pen as early as Friday.

Had Grilli not been traded, he likely would have been released to create a roster spot for Johnson.

Ratcliffe has posted a 4.91 ERA over 41 Minor League appearances since being selected by the Blue Jays in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The 21-year-old right-hander has never pitched above the Class A level, and he has spent all of this season in extended spring training.

The Braves are taking a roll of the dice with Ratcliffe in much the same manner they did with Adam McCreery, the right-handed pitcher who was acquired from the Angels for Jhoulys Chacin on May 11.

McCreery was pitching for the Angels in extended spring training at the time of the deal, but the Braves recently promoted him to Class A Rome, which is where Ratcliffe might land after working out at Atlanta's Spring Training complex over the next couple of weeks.

"We'd like to see him throw for us first and then just see where he can help us and what his timetable is to take the next step," Coppolella said.

Grilli compiled a 2.94 ERA and successfully converted 24 of 26 save opportunities before he suffered the potentially career-ending injury last year. The veteran endured a rigorous offseason rehab process and showed enough promise during Spring Training to begin this season as Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino's setup man.

But it didn't take long to realize Grilli could no longer be utilized as a reliable late-inning asset. He had a 5.29 ERA and allowed a .370 on-base percentage over 17 innings (21 appearances) this year.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.