KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Atlanta traded Josh Anderson to the Detroit Tigers on Monday, increasing the chances that rookie Jordan Schafer will open the season as the Braves' center fielder.
Schafer, who is hitting .373 this spring, appears to have the edge over Gregor Blanco, who was away from the team most of spring training while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
"The center-field job is still open," Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said. "It will be hard to keep two. We knew we couldn't keep all three."
In exchange for Anderson, who was out of options, the Braves received minor league pitcher Rudy Darrow. The side-arming reliever will be assigned to Double-A Mississippi. The 25-year-old right-hander split time between Class A West Michigan and Double-A Erie last season, going 5-3 with 10 saves and a 2.02 ERA.
"He's a prospect, absolutely," Wren said. "We feel good about getting an arm like that."
Wren said he began exploring trade options for Anderson after it was determined he was behind Schafer and Blanco in the center-field competition.
"Baseball is a business obviously, but change is still hard," Anderson said.
Schafer, 22, played at Mississippi last year, hitting .269. He was suspended 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy.
Anderson hit .294 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 40 games with Atlanta last season. The 26-year-old also had 10 steals.
"He gives us a dimension that we really don't have, which is speed," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He is a genuine speed guy. He can steal bases. He's a very good defensive outfielder, so for us we thought he was a real good fit with the outfielders we have."
Dombrowski said Anderson will join the team Tuesday, and will be on the Tigers' roster on opening day. That makes the outfield competition even tighter for Brent Clevlen, Jeff Larish, Ryan Raburn, Marcus Thames and Clete Thomas, who are vying for backup spots.
Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez are expected to start in the outfield for Detroit.
"Some of the guys will end up going down to Triple-A, and we don't think that will end up hurting them," Dombrowski said. "We don't have a lot of lightning speed coming up in our organization, so for us it just makes sense to have a guy like (Anderson)."