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2023 Braves Season in Review: Nick Solak appeared on www.batterypower.com by DJourn.
Claimed on waivers, Nick Solak got into one game for the Braves before heading back to the minors and then getting DFAed later in the year.
Solak debuted for the Texas Rangers in 2019, appearing in 35 games after being drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2016 Rule 4 MLB Draft out of the University of Louisville. He was traded to Tampa Bay in February 2018 as part of a three-team deal, and subsequently traded to Texas in July 2019 for reliever Pete Fairbanks.
Solak spent parts of four seasons as a utility player for the Rangers with the majority of his time spent at second base. He started essentially full time in 2021, but the Rangers pivoted to other options after he managed just 1.0 fWAR in 511 PAs that year. After a 2022 season in which he spent a bunch of time in the minors, Solak was purchased from the Rangers by the Cincinnati Reds. At the end of the 2023 Spring Training, the Seattle Mariners purchased him from the Reds. After two weeks with the Mariners organization, he was claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox.
Solak was claimed on waivers by the Atlanta Braves on April 18, 2023, after a four-day stint with the White Sox.
What were the expectations?
Solak was one of a host of utility players, whose primary position was on the infield, who made their home at Triple-A Gwinnett during part the 2023 season. As such, Solak was expected to provide end-of-the-bench depth for Atlanta if injuries or performance created a need for the big-league club.
Up through 2023, Solak had a below-average hitting line, but an average xwOBA. However, defensive limitations made him an awkward fit on most rosters: few teams really want to carry a guy who can’t really play defense and might give you a league-average bat without much more.
Solak slashed .272/.364/.444 in 173 plate appearances with the Stripers. He was recalled to Atlanta on April 25, on a day the team made a host of transactions that included Eli White going on the paternity list. He made his Braves debut the following day as a pinch-runner for Sean Murphy, scoring a run in Atlanta’s come-from-behind victory over the Miami Marlins.
That ended up being Solak’s only appearance with the Braves, as the team optioned him back to Gwinnett two days later, as they activated Michael Harris II from the injured list. The organization eventually designated him for assignment on June 8th, which led to him being claimed by the Detroit Tigers and bringing his time with the Braves organization to a close. Solak then also appeared in one game for the Tigers as a pinch-runner, meaning that his final 2023 seasonal line features two games and zero PAs.
What went right?
Solak did get into two major league games, and he did score a major league run. That’s really about it. Here’s him scoring the tying run after coming in to run for Sean Murphy, in a game the Braves ended up winning after trailing 0-4 after the top of the sixth:
What went wrong?
Across three organizations, the 28-year-old slashed .238/.378/.453 in Triple-A. The 2023 season provided him with the least amount of action he’d seen in the Major since his 2019 debut, and he hit relatively poorly in the minors, so it’ll be an uphill climb for him to get back to major league relevance from here on out.
Solak will likely be looking to catch on with a team to provide minor-league depth in 2024. It is doubtful he will return to the Braves organization, although that isn’t a given. If he doesn’t end up with the Braves again before his career ends, he will join an obscure Atlanta position player club for players who saw action in one game without getting a plate appearance – one that includes Rylan Bannon (2022), Brian Barton (2009) and Mike Fischlin (1987).
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