Jose Bautista Released by Braves, Johan Camargo Named Atlanta's Starting 3B

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2018

Atlanta Braves' Jose Bautista watches his three-run home run off Chicago Cubs' Jose Quintana during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Chicago. Braves' Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers scored on the play. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves released veteran slugger Jose Bautista on Sunday, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

The team's general manager and executive vice president, Alex Anthopoulos, announced Johan Camargo would serve as the team's starting third baseman in the wake of the move.

"We decided as a group that we're going to give Camargo a shot here, give him a run as the everyday guy," Anthopoulos said. "As we looked at it, just knowing there wasn't going to be at-bats for Jose, that's not fair to him. So we talked to him last night, just talked it over and said, 'Hey, we're going to go with Camargo,' and tried to decide what the best thing for him and his career was."

You can see his full comments below:

Bautista, 37, has struggled in 2018, hitting just .143 with two home runs and five RBI. Bautista's decline later in his career has been clear, as he's hit below .250 in each of the past three seasons. His power numbers have declined as well. In both 2016 and 2017, Bautista failed to reach 25 home runs or 70 RBI after doing so in five of six seasons between 2010-15. 

In that time, Bautista was one of the most feared power hitters in baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays, playing in six All-Star games and winning three Silver Slugger Awards in his career. But it appears his best baseball is behind him. 

Camargo, meanwhile, is just 24 and hitting .226 with two home runs and 13 RBI. The versatile third baseman—he's also played at second and shortstop for the Braves—has shown flashes of quality play this season and made a better case to become the team's everyday third baseman than Bautista. 

Certainly, his fielding has been a plus.

"He's one of those guys where if he hits it off his chest or kicks it to the side, he's going to make up for it with his arm," pitcher Sean Newcomb said Saturday, per Bowman. "You always feel comfortable with [the ball] going to him because you know he's going to get a glove on it. Then, he's got a cannon."

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