Braves sign Wang, Veal and Almonte

The Braves kicked off the offseason Monday with three signings.

Here we go! The offseason is off and running as the Braves made three signings official.

The biggest name is Chien-Ming Wang, who signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Wang is a 34-year-old right-handed starting pitcher. His career has sputtered after a great start with the Yankees in the mid-2000s.

Wang has eight years experience in the big leagues. He last pitched with Toronto in 2013. Most of his success was with the Yankees from 2005 through 2009, when he was 55-26 in 109 games. Wang has also pitched with the Nationals. Last year Wang made 19 starts in Louisville for the Reds' Triple-A team and nine starts in Charlotte, the White Sox' Triple-A club.

The Braves will let Wang compete for a job in spring training, but he's more than likely headed to Gwinnett as an insurance policy for the big league rotation.

Wang was originally signed by Gordon Blakeley for the Yankees. Blakeley joined Atlanta's front office last month as an international scouting executive.

Donnie Veal actually played with Wang in Charlotte this past season. Veal just turned 30 in September. He's a left-handed reliever who has 100 games pitched in the big leagues. The Braves also gave Veal a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training.

Veal started his career in the Cubs' organization before being grabbed by the Pirates in the Rule V Draft. Veal made his big league debut with Pittsburgh in 2009 pitching in 19 games in relief. Then he was traded to the White Sox and had 81 games pitched between 2012 and last season.

The one player that did get a major league contract is Zoilo Almonte, who spent the last nine seasons in the Yankees organization. Almonte is from the Dominican, so again we can see the Gordon Blakeley influence.

Almonte has played in New York with the big league team in parts of the past two seasons. He's got 30 hits in 142 big league at bats, a .211 batting average, with two home runs and 12 RBI.

Almonte is a switch-hitter that has played all three outfield positions. Last year in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Almonte hit .261 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI. The Braves will give Almonte a chance to win the fourth outfielder's job, but if not he will likely be a top player (and backup option) at Gwinnett.

The Braves are expected to be busy with six-year minor league free agents, considering the lack of depth at the top two levels of the minor leagues.



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