The Braves and Dodgers completed a blockbuster on Saturday, moving a few big names and bigger salaries.
The only player who fit neither of that criteria was utilityman Charlie Culberson. He was hidden behind the names of Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, and his acquisition also pales in comparison to adding veteran Brandon McCarthy to the rotation or taking an expensive flier on former All-Star Scott Kazmir.
Here are five things to know about Culberson, who fits the team’s need for another versatile defender.
Unlikely Dodgers legend: Culberson played in 49 games across two seasons in Los Angeles, yet he made an unforgettable impression.
In the 10th inning of a 3-3 game, two outs, Culberson hit a walk-off home run to defeat the Rockies and the Dodgers clinched the NL West on Sept. 25, 2016. It was longtime broadcaster and baseball icon Vin Scully’s last call at Dodger Stadium.
Culberson homered in game 2 of the World Series this October, bringing the Dodgers to within a run before eventually losing 7-6 to the Astros in the 11th.
Familiar fit: General Manager Alex Anthopoulos wanted to improve the Braves defense. He also needed a versatile infielder. The 28-year-old Culberson checks both boxes.
In his post-trade phone conference, Anthopoulos spoke highly of Culberson, whom he spent the past two seasons with in Los Angeles. Culberson is a Gold Glove-level defender, experienced utilityman and a strong addition to the clubhouse, according to the Braves GM.
Team control: The Braves acquired four players in the trade but Culberson is the only one controllable past 2018.
Gonzalez, added in the deal for financial reasons, was immediately waived. The potential hall of famer will be free to sign anywhere he chooses while the Braves pay the final year of his contract. McCarthy and Kazmir are each signed through the season.
Culberson is controllable for the next four seasons, meaning if he carves a role for himself, the team can easily keep him around. As of now, Culberson will assume Johan Camargo’s utility role, assuming Camargo takes over regular third-base duties.
Away from the West: For the first time in his career, Culberson won’t be in the system of or play for an NL West team.
After the Giants drafted him in 2007, Culberson was dealt to the Rockies in 2012. He signed with L.A. in 2015.
Over five seasons, Culberson has hit .231 in 443 plate appearances (197 games). He has six career home runs and 45 RBIs, with 24 coming with Colorado in 2014.
Homecoming: Culberson hails from Rome, Georgia, and is a member of the Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame (2015). The Giants selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft. Culberson’s father, Charles, played minor league baseball and his grandfather, Leon, enjoyed a five-year major-league career.
While with the Red Sox in the 1946 World Series, Leon was part of the “mad dash” play that ultimately won the Cardinals the series.
Leon, who replaced an injured Dom DiMaggio in eighth inning, fielded a Harry Walker hit and made the relay throw to Johnny Pesky, whose hesitant throw allowed Enos Slaughter to score the winning run. The blame became debatable: Was it the fault of Leon’s weak throw or Pesky’s hesitation?