Braves offseason gamble looking like another Alex Anthopoulos masterclass

The Atlanta Braves took an offseason gamble on relief pitcher Ken Giles. If Wednesday served as a preview, it'll pay off big time.

Atlanta Braves Photo Day
Atlanta Braves Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves took a spring training flyer on former Blue Jays and Phillies closer Ken Giles, and it could pay off for them after all. Giles hadn't pitched since 2021, but in a showcase for MLB teams performed admirably and showed off a new slider and cutter.

Giles hadn't pitched professionally in quite some time, but in his first spring training appearance turned back the clock four years. The 33-year-old faced the heart of the Philadelphia Phillies order on Wendesday afternoon. In doing so, he struck out all three of Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm with his power slider.

It should be noted that Alex Anthopoulos has a habit of building his bullpen out on the fly. Anthopoulos landed the likes of Pierce Johnson from the Colorado Rockies at the trade deadline just last season, only for the Braves pitching coaches to rebuild him into one of the better middle-relief pitchers in the National League.

Now, AA is hoping they can do the same with Giles and Aaron Bummer, who he acquired via a trade with the Chicago White Sox.

Atlanta Braves Ken Giles acquisition looks better by the day

The Braves have to be careful with Giles, who hasn't made an official MLB appearance in awhile due to injury. This includes Tommy John surgery, which he has since recovered from.

In his heyday, Giles features a triple-digit fastball and legitimately terrifying breaking stuff as his secondary pitches. While his fastball has dipped to around 95 MPH, his slider and cutter are welcome additions to his pitch arsenal.

The most important aspect of Giles contract is that it's a minor-league deal, and applies little pressure on the coaching staff to use him if not effective. If Giles can resemble his 2019 self, in which he threw 53 innings with a 1.87 ERA, a late-inning relief spot could be available in Atlanta.

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