SAN DIEGO — Joe Mather opted for free agency rather than be sent back to Triple-A by the Braves.
The backup corner outfielder/infielder was designated for assignment Sunday by the Braves. He chose free agency on Thursday after going through waivers without being claimed by another team.
Mather, 28, had the right to choose free agency as a player who’d already been outrighted to the minor leagues once this season.
The Braves claimed him off waivers from St. Louis in November and hoped to use him as a backup first baseman and outfielder. But the out-of-options player was outrighted to the minors after having a poor spring training and going unclaimed on waivers.
(He had to clear waivers because he was out of minor-league options, which had been exhausted during his years with the Cardinals.)
Added to the Braves’ major league roster early in the season, Mather hit .213 with one homer, nine RBI and 23 strikeouts in 75 at-bats for Atlanta..
After going 7-for-12 with a homer and five RBIs in three games May 20-22 against the Angels at Anaheim, he was 3-for-42 with two RBIs in his last 21 games for the Braves.
When outfielder Nate McLouth came off the disabled list Sunday, the Braves opted to keep rookie Wilkin Ramirez as a backup and dropped Mather. They had 10 days to trade, release or put him on waivers.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez told Mather the Braves would like to retain him if he cleared waivers and was willing to return to Triple-A Gwinnett rather than become a free agent.