The Atlanta Braves actually added major-league talent to their roster, signing left-handed reliever Alex Torres to a minor-league contract. Torres will also receive a non-roster invitation to spring training.
Torres, 28, posted a 3.15 ERA in 34.1 innings with the New York Mets in 2015, but was designated for assignment on August 4 when the team acquired Eric O’Flaherty.
An international signee of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005, he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 as part of the Scott Kazmir trade. Kazmir himself found a new home, returning to the West Coast by agreeing to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While with the Rays in 2013, he witnessed his teammate, starter Alex Cobb, get drilled in the head by an Eric Hosmer line drive. Cobb was immediately responsive, but suffered a mild concussion and left on a stretcher. It was a frightening scene and yet another case of a pitcher suffering a life-threatening injury. Torres wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t happen to him.
Torres was dealt to the San Diego Padres before the 2014 season, and made history by being the first pitcher to wear the isoBLOX protective cap, approved for play earlier in the year. Although he was mocked and compared to the Great Gazoo, Torres knew that safety was no laughing matter. He continued to wear the cap with the Mets, and figures to continue doing so with Atlanta in 2016.
Torres is no lock to make the Braves’ bullpen, but has had previous big-league success and comes with three years of team control, having only 2.095 years of service time.