Braves claim pitcher Chase Whitley off waivers from Rays

2:09 p.m Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 Atlanta Braves
Chase Whitley, a former Troy University standout from Alabama, debuted with the Yankees in 2014 and pitched the past two seasons with the Rays. He was claimed off waivers by the Braves on Friday. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The Braves claimed right-hander Chase Whitley off waivers from the Rays on Friday and signed him to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration with the Alabama native.

The 28-year-old has major league experience as a starter and reliever, and posted a 4.08 ERA in 41 appearances in 2017 for Tampa Bay, all in relief.  He totaled 43 strikeouts with 16 walks in 57 1/3 innings in what was his first full season since May 2015 Tommy John elbow surgery.

In parts of four major league seasons -- two each with the Rays and Yankees -- Whitley has a 7-6 record and 4.48 ERA in 74 games (17 starts) with 134 strikeouts, 42 walks and 19 homers allowed in 166 2/3 innings.

He was eligible for arbitration for the first time and had been projected to get about $1 million if he’d gone through the process with Tampa Bay. Whitley will get consideration for either a starting or relief role with the Braves.

A 15th-round draft pick by the Yankees in 2010 out of Troy University, Whitley made his major league debut in 2014, going 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA in 24 games, including 12 starts for New York. He was born and raised in Ranburne, Ala.

His only four major league games in 2015 were starts with the Yankees and he also made one start in five major league appearances for the Rays in 2016 before moving to a full-time relief role. The Rays claimed him off waivers from the Yankees after the 2015 season when he was rehabbing from TJ surgery.

Whitley, who’s had a modest 90-91 mph fastball since surgery, was nevertheless effective against hitters from both sides of the plate last season, allowing a .219 average and .612 OPS in 138 plate appearances by right-handed batters and .227/.655 in 100 plate appearances by lefty batters.

The addition of Whitley early Friday afternoon left the Braves’ 40-man roster full at 40. They had until 8 p.m. Friday to decide whether to tender contracts to seven unsigned arbitration-eligible players including slugger Matt Adams and utility men Jace Peterson and Danny Santana.

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