Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the news Thursday. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution passed along comments from Braves general manager John Coppolella about their newest addition and the reason behind the signing.
"We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person," Coppolella said. "Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What's the downside here?"
Commings brings more local flavor to the organization as an Augusta, Georgia native. He played both baseball and football during his time at Westside High School before deciding to play college football.
The 2008 Arizona Diamondbacks draftee starred in the Georgia Bulldogs secondary before getting selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He appeared in two NFL games, but injuries derailed his professional career before it ever had a chance to flourish.
Now the 26-year-old athlete, who will likely try to work his way through the Atlanta system as an outfielder, is trying to switch back to baseball. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report noted he hasn't played the sport competitively since high school.
Commings has been working with former major leaguer Jerry Hairston Jr. throughout the winter to begin the transition back to baseball. His retired mentor told Rosenthal he's usually skeptical when people tell him they want to make a late switch to the sport, but he's become a believer in this case.
"If he had chosen baseball, he would be in the major leagues right now," Hairston said. "He's a Starling Marte type of talent. He's that good."
His age, the learning curve and the long layoff still make it a long shot he'll ever contribute in the majors, but the Braves aren't afraid to take chances. They were also involved in the highly publicized Tim Tebow sweepstakes before he joined the division-rival New York Mets last year.
That said, it's a low-risk, high-reward signing for Atlanta, which previously featured two-sport stars Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan. Marte owns a career .289/.345/.447 triple-slash line for the Pittsburgh Pirates with 160 stolen bases and 58 home runs across 599 games.
If Commings can work his way through the minors and provide a fraction of that production for the Braves, it will be an investment well spent. Patience will be key for both player and team during what's likely to become a multi-year process, though.