The Atlanta Braves announced a surprising move on Sunday morning, signing veteran starting pitcher Ben Sheets to a minor league contract. Sheets, 34 in a few weeks, was once an ace with the Brewers, but he's been out of baseball since 2010 with arm injuries.
The Braves are making a no-risk, high-reward decision here, and there's very little not to like about the signing.
Sheets won't come close to posting his stellar numbers from five years ago, but he's fully healthy and reportedly had quite a few teams bidding for his services after throwing a simulated game last week.
For a Braves club that will pursue some big name targets in the coming weeks -- Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster are just a few -- it makes sense to add a guy who won't cost much in money (or prospects).
The plan with Sheets is to have him pitch two or three games in the Minor Leagues and then evaluate where he is both physically and mentally. If the Braves feel he's ready to make a return to the Major Leagues, Sheets could potentially replace Randall Delgado if he continues to struggle. He could also replace a pitcher should they get injured, or if Jair Jurrjens returns back to his early season form.
The safe bet would be to not count on Sheets for anything -- even he preached cautious optimism when meeting with the media -- but he might just end up being a nice addition for Atlanta in the coming months. And if he isn't, well, it only takes a little bit of paperwork to release a player.
Sheets will make his debut with the Mississippi Braves on July 4.
For more on Sheets and his newest club, check out Talking Chop.