Good luck Johan Camargo

Thursday, December 2, 2021

-Clint Manry

After 10 seasons in the organization, Johan Camargo is no longer a Brave. Late on Wednesday night it was reported that the switch-hitter had signed a one-year, $1.4-million contract with the Phillies. The deal comes just a day after the Braves chose not to tender Camargo a contract for the 2022 campaign, which wasn’t really a surprise given the utility player hasn’t contributed much for the big league team lately. He will turn 29 later this month.

While it was definitely time for Atlanta to move on from Camargo, it is sad to see it turn out this way. If you recall, Johan was once expected to become the team’s next homegrown star third baseman, following an impressive 82-game stint with the Braves in 2017 that featured a .299 AVG and 27 XBH in 256 PA. The solid showing the year prior resulted in Camargo winning the third base job for the 2018 season, and the then-24-year-old didn’t disappoint. As part of a breakout performance, Camargo slashed .272/.349/.457 with 19 homers, 27 doubles and 76 RBI in 134 games with Atlanta in ‘18 – good for a 115 wRC+ and 3.2 fWAR.  The future was looking incredibly bright at the hot corner.

However, in November of 2018, the Braves decided to bring more pop into the lineup. GM Alex Anthopoulos signed a player coming off an injury, inking third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million deal. Instead of trading Camargo, the team chose to use the versatile infielder as a super utility-man. The plan went splendidly for Donaldson… but Camargo struggled mightily in the new role, and while playing in 98 games during the 2019 season, Johan hit just .233 with seven homers, ending the year with a below-average 66 wRC+ and just -0.5 WAR.

Since the Donaldson signing, Camargo just hasn’t been able to consistently contribute for the Braves. In 2020, Johan played in 35 games but only hit .200, and this past season he spent the majority of his time in Triple-A Gwinnett. Since the start of 2019, Camargo has been worth -1.1 WAR as a big leaguer and his 58 wRC+ has been essentially unplayable.

In 2021, I thought maybe Camargo was on his way to turning things around. The guy raked in the minors, slashing .326/.401/.557 with 19 homers in 104 games with the Stripers. But none of that could translate to success in the majors, and as a result, the Braves were unable to find a spot for him.

It’s not too late for Camargo to turn his career around in Philadelphia, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of him given he’s staying in the division. But last night’s news will always leave me wondering what could’ve been as I always believed Camargo was destined to become a solid major league player. But for whatever reason… it just didn’t happen.

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