2012 Contract Issues: Atlanta Braves

The Braves are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.

Eligible For Free Agency (3)

Contract Options (2)

  • Nate McLouth: $10.65MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout.  This figures to be declined.
  • Eric Hinske: $1.5MM club option with a $100K buyout.  There's a good chance the Braves pick this one up.

Arbitration Eligible (5)

Jurrjens will be the best-paid of the group, with $6MM a possibility depending on how this season goes.  The Braves' arbitration eligible players could cost around $15MM in total.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Braves' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $62.742MM excluding Hinske's buyout.  Add in Hinske and the arbitration eligible players and you're in the $80MM range.  That'd leave $15MM to spend assuming payroll is around $95MM.  The Braves could add $6-15MM in flexibility (minus the salaries of the players coming back) by trading Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, or Derek Lowe, as they have great rotation depth.  They might be in the market for a shortstop, a center fielder, and a reliever or two.

57 Responses to 2012 Contract Issues: Atlanta Braves Leave a Reply

  1. bbxxj 4 years ago

    What I think they should and might do:

    Unless Linebrink or Sherrill (who have been impressive lately) really impress or fit in the bulpen this year then they will likely be swapped out for two similarly priced veteran middle relievers next year. They also may only be looking for one if they decide Medlen should come back as a 7th/8th inning guy instead of a starter. The way things have gone so far with Venters and Kimbrel they won’t be in the market for a late inning reliever.

    I would like to bring back Gonzalez on a similar contract to the one he is on now – 2.5MM with a 2.5MM option. Shortstops who are excellent defensively, like Gonzalez has been historically and has been incredible lately, and have at least one above average offensive skill like Gonzalez’s ~20HR power are not easy to find. Enjoy the defense and leadership at a low cost that allows other areas to be addressed and then just bat him 7th or 8th and hope for an XBH. Pastornicky might be ready next year but it wouldn’t hurt to keep him in AAA as insurance as none of our other SS prospects are that close.

    Hinkse is an easy pickup if he does about what he did last year. McLouth is likely gone but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him brought back at a lower cost. Most likely Schafer will earn/be given the job and hopefully he is finally healthy enough to be the ++ CF defender with OBP and speed at the plate.

    I don’t see too many non-tender candidates from the arb eligibles.

    If you include Teheran they will have seven viable (even seven above average) starting pitchers so its entirely possible one gets traded. I would like to keep the depth but if a team makes a great offer sending Jurrjens might be the move to make. Outside of the top seven having guys like Medlen back healthy and other prospects like Delgado, Hoover etc ready could further facilitate a starter being moved.

    With the bats already under team control and overall pitching depth there wont be much to do next year.

    • Brad426 4 years ago

      I agree with most of the stuff you have written here except for the part about Gonzalez. While he has been stellar defensively so far this year, historically he has been slightly below average. And last year looks like more of an anomaly in the HR department, as historically he is about a 10-12 HR kinda guy.

      Now having said all that I wouldn’t mind seeing him re-signed to a 1 year deal in the $2.5M range as you said. Any more than that and it seems like you could go get a better defensive SS cheaper.

  2. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Why did they start Pastornicky in AA again?

    Escobar trade = Braves Fail

    • On paper you might say that the Escobar trade was poor, but the Braves were tired of his antics. Statistically it’s impossible to account for, but morale, comfort, mental health, those things matter to performance and Yunel had frustrated and alienated himself from the team. So they traded for a cheaper, more mature, albeit older version of Yuni.

      Pastornicky is in AA because that’s the best place for him. He isn’t going to contribute this year, whereas Diory Hernandez will be used as bench depth or may actually start in case of an injury.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        I meant why didnt they start him at AAA
        Also RE:escobar, the team and fans love him, he’s a really good player the clubhouse cancer tag was completely fabricated

        • Yeah, I’m sure the Braves had to create lies about Escobar when he was being managed by arguably the biggest player’s manager of all-time. Ignore the fact that Bobby Cox was absolutely loved by the vast majority of his players and the fact that he was ejected from 150-some-odd games defending his guys.

          The Braves just made up stories to force themselves into trading a player that averaged better than 3 WAR during his first three seasons.

          Your comment, sir, was not very bright.


          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            lol i don’t even have a response to that dribble.

            Bobby Cox, 150 games ejected.. he’s got to be good!

          • First, it’s drivel. Thanks.

            It’s merely evidence of what kind of manager he was. He was out on the field, constantly sticking up for his guys. Players absolutely love that. In a player’s poll last season, when asked the question, “If you could play for any major league team other than your own, which one would it be?”, the Braves were the most selected team, largely because of Bobby Cox.

            So all the players love the Bobby Cox, but Yunel Escobar doesn’t. Who’s the more likely culprit?? The guy who fails to run out hits (let alone easy outs), the lackadaisical fielder who once flipped off the press box after an error, or the widely-beloved manager whose only rules are to show up on time and try your best??

            But I’m sure it’s all an elaborate fabrication that’s been occurring since 2008-09, when the first reported instances of Escobar’s bad attitude surfaced.


          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            you’re side stepping the real issue by justifying how good Bobby Cox is.. Its really completely irrelevant..

            Did the braves get full value for Escobar.. um no
            Do the braves have questions marks after this year at SS.. um yess.

            regardless of how lackadaisal Escobar is, the braves came out on the losing end of that deal.

          • ColoradoBravesFan 4 years ago

            The Braves tricked the Jays into taking Reyes in the deal. Braves win even if Yunel becomes an all-star every year. Could of only been better if Braves would of keep Collins instead of sending him to Royals…. :)

          • I don’t debate that the Braves didn’t get full value or that they have future SS questions.

            I debate moronic viewpoints stating that he wasn’t a clubhouse cancer, wasn’t lackadaisical, and that his attitude issues were a complete fabrication.


          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            ‘moronic viewpoints’

            So being a sheep and believing everything you here isn’t moronic, but taking a person for what he is and what he is currently showing isn’t?

            You havent mention one incident in which Escobar actually did something destructive to the well being of the braves.. He was one of their best players in 2009. .

            and please don’t say oh careless errors and etc, because he was and still is one of the best fielding shortstops in the league.

          • He single-handedly lost the Braves at least three games in 2010 with terrible base-running and lazy fielding. He flipped off the score-keepers for giving him an error. He nearly broke Troy Glaus’s arm on a very stupid play. He whined about his spot in the lineup. He whined about not needing to change his approach at the plate. He whined about being ‘singled out’, even when he was the only one not producing.

            Should I just keep going? No, he didn’t murder anybody to my knowledge.

          • You’re really not very good at this. You should probably stop while you’re behind.

            Yunel’s history has been fairly well-documented. He did many more things than I’ve chosen to mention. He routinely walked out groundouts. He once got thrown out at second on what should have been a triple because he decided to admire his work. The bat flips in the umpire’s direction were already noted. He was benched for lackadaisical fielding and careless baserunning.

            And, while we’re at it, I never said he was a bad fielder. He’s great…when he wants to actually pay attention to the game. Unfortunately, he definitely lost focus at times during his Braves career. The Glaus incident wasn’t even close to the only case…it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

            The main problem you seem to be having is taking his current play and applying it to his past. He may have turned a corner in Toronto, and if so, I wish him nothing but the best (which I wish him even if he hasn’t turned the corner…this is nothing personal, and I was a huge Yunel fan). But, when in Atlanta, these issues existed and were noticed regularly by the organization, its fans, and the media covering the games. It has nothing to do with believing hearsay…all you had to do is watch him play, and you could easily pick up on all these different things he did that rubbed everyone, his teammates included, the wrong way.

            If he’s done with those bad habits, all the better for him and the Blue Jays. I’m sad he had to leave Atlanta in order to start acting professional. I also genuinely hope that Atlanta Yunel =/= Toronto Yunel, or the Blue Jays will have similar headaches for the next three years.


          • “regardless of how lackadaisal Escobar is, the braves came out on the losing end of that deal.”

            You see, this isn’t the point either. YOU said his reputation with the Braves was fabricated. C- was explaining to you just how dumb that is to say. When did you bring up the ‘real’ issue, which you’re claiming is that the Braves didn’t get equal value and they have a hole at SS? But you didn’t say any of this. You merely said that his ‘clubhouse cancer’ label was fabricated, nothing else. So he’s definitely not ‘side-stepping’ anything, you are…..

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            Why did they start Pastornicky in AA again?

            Escobar trade = Braves Fail

            that was my first post. so ya, no ..he responded by saying on paper blah blah blah Escobar is this Escobar is that…

            all irrelevant..That was a terrible trade for the braves.. if they were fed up with Escobar they should have traded him when his value was high.

          • “if they were fed up with Escobar they should have traded him when his value was high.”

            You mean, back when they weren’t fed up with him? You haven’t made sense yet, fellow.

            No, the trade is just fine. Gonzalez will be about the same as Escobar without the headaches and he’s cheaper. The thing you’re forgetting is that Escobar will be a free agent next year just like Gonzalez. So they get about the same production (and maybe better) plus a SS for the future. The trade makes good baseball sense and will almost certainly be a win in the long run for the Braves.

          • Escobar won’t be a FA next year, I don’t think.

            This guy’s just getting too excited by a small sample size and the fact that his team was able to unload Wells. The Jays won’t be contending anytime soon, so once the SSS effect wears off, we won’t hear much from him. Seen it a million times on here.

          • You’re right, I misread. He’ll have two more years of arbitration, which will probably cost between 12-15 mil for the next two years. I think I’d rather resign Alex at two years for 5M and spend elsewhere.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            Oh so he’s not a clubhouse cancer when he’s having a great season… but when he struggles he’s a club house cancer.

            Sound reasoning ‘fellow’

            You braves fans are pretty pathetic to be honest.. you guys are just soiling a guys name in order to justify losing a trade. Similar to how Jays fans all became sheep and started hating Rios after he was moved for nothing…

            bottom line is, none of you know him, or know what happened in the club house. yet you all talk like Escobar is your neighbour.

          • Did I say he wasn’t a clubhouse cancer when he had a good season? No, I did not. I said at a certain point the Braves had had enough of his antics. They would’ve liked to keep him despite his attitude problems, but midway through the year they realized he would only increase his poor behavior. Had they been able to see into the future and realize that he wouldn’t change, that he wouldn’t mature they would’ve traded him at the beginning of year. But nobody can see into the future and only you can criticize people for their failure to do so.

            I’m happy to talk about terrible trades the Braves have made. Don’t get me started on the Tex / Kotchman trade. Really though, the Yuni trade isn’t nearly so bad.

          • Yeah, way to go Captain Hindsight……

            So ya, no? Are you 12? The value of the trade isn’t where I would like it, but name a club who’s never made a bad trade? You can’t simply be happy that the Jays have Escobar without making some sort of weird contest out of it? But since you’re turning this into one, when are the Jays set to contend again and when is the next awful contract set to be tendered? Which player? How about a 9 year, $280 million for Mr. Hill?

          • I didn’t even reply to your Pastornicky comment. If you’re going to do a poor job analyzing what I’ve said, at least make sure I’m the one making that comment.

            As for your Pastornicky comment, he hadn’t played AA at all prior to being introduced to the Braves organization, and only played 38 games there last season. It makes perfect sense to keep him at the AA level for the moment. If he does well there (and he is, currently), he’ll likely move to AAA before the season is through. That’s the logical progression of a ballplayer, and none of it is surprising.

            Did you figure that Pastornicky was going to jump from High-A to AAA in just one season so he could be ready for an MLB debut in 2012?? If so, you’re probably the only one, though he may be a darkhorse candidate for the back-up job next season. In all likelihood, the Braves either re-sign Gonzalez for a couple more years or grab a journeyman until Salcedo or Lipka is ready for the starting job in 2014 or so.


          • NYBravosFan10 4 years ago

            you sound just like any typical Blue Jays fan. Nothing but trash and no real knowledge coming out of your keyboard. I’ve really had it with Jays fans glowing over how good a player/human Escobar is. Good for you, noone cares. We only care that he was a clubhouse cancer and needed to be gotten rid of. The facts are there and it is completely irrelevant that he’s a good human being with you guys. To be totally honest, he probably has been humbled a little bit.

        • As a “fan” I can assure you that past his fist stint in 08 I hated this guy. He had absolutely no focus on the field. He screwed up more routine plays and made more baserunning errors than anybody I’ve seen. Count me as glad he’s gone, just wish we’d have gotten more out of him.

        • He’d been annoying Braves fans for years, I live right here in Atlanta, and he was hated. Constantly flipping bats at umpires, acting like it was the world’s fault anything didn’t go his way, throwing batting gloves on the ground when he struck out. His last straw came against the Mets when he took way to much time on a throw to first, then by the time he finally threw it, he pulled Troy Glaus in front of the runner, nearly getting his arm crushed. Glaus glared over at him, and Bobby clearly was furious. All this taking place after he cost the Braves the previous game with sloppy baserunning. I will never miss Yunel Escobar.

    • tomymogo 4 years ago

      And let’s not forget about Alex Gonzalez and Tim collins. Alex has been great at a very affordable deal, awesome defense with occasional power. And Tim Collins was traded away to KC, but he was the guy that made the deal work, and they traded him for Rick Ankiel, that was a mistake

    • The biggest problem with this trade is that they didn’t do it before the season when they could have gotten a King’s ransom for him. They trade him 4-5 months earlier you get maybe 3 good prospects or 2 great prospect for him. (Off the top of my head Cinci, Toronto, or Baltimore would’ve been all over this) If they make the decision as soon as the 09 season was over they could’ve just signed Gonzalez and got the best available package. Make no mistake Escobar didn’t just become a cancer last July he was one all the way through 09. The braves say they’re building their team on chemistry (and I believe they are), they need to strike when the iron is hot on a potential cancer like Escobar. The mistake wasn’t in trading him. The mistake was waiting to long to have the growth removed.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        exactly.. could have gotten WAY more for escobar.. especially with the shortage of goo SS in the league.. they sold him at his low point.

        good post, bravo

        • Yes, and the Astros, Royals, Rays, and Diamondbacks could’ve gotten more had they traded Oswalt, Greinke, Garza, and Haren a year earlier.

          Do you see what I’m getting at here?

      • The Braves held onto Escobar because he was blossoming into a star at a premium position. He’s always had attitude problems, but you see……he was HITTING during them for years. So the Braves put up with it. Then when he started REALLY struggling, his attitude became progressively worse. So it’s pretty easy to see why and how it played out this way. The Braves were playing great baseball, Escobar was horrific at the plate and his attitude became more of a problem. The Braves sold low, but that’s what you have to do sometimes in the middle of a playoff race with a thug player, regardless of upside. He proved that he wasn’t going to fix his attitude or approach at the plate in ATL, so he’s now on the Blue Jays.

        This trade was blown out of proportion from day 1 with non-Braves fans not really following it. They seen it as the Braves buying high on Alex Gonzalez because Escobar was struggling, which wasn’t the case.

  3. mbrink12 4 years ago

    It would be hard to see the Braves trading Tim Hudson. I could see them trading Jurrjens if the Braves get a good deal or even dealing Lowe to give more flexibility in the payroll. That way we could go out and get a big name CF or SS in FA.

    Bring back Gonzalez, decline McLouth’s option and bring back Hinske, who many teams I bet wish had signed him as he’s done well off the bench.

  4. rstarr 4 years ago

    Hudson isn’t going anywhere. Good contract, local guy, good in the community and has 10-5 rights.

  5. If I’m GM, I look to dump Lowe – even though he is pitching great – for financial flexibility. We don’t need relievers – Asencio, Marek, Medlen, Beachy. Teheran comes up in middle of May to avoid super two and completes the rotation. With Lowe off the books Braves should have $30M to obtain a SS and CF, I would take Reyes and Beltran and call it a day.

    • CF: Beltran in center scares me. If Schafer isn’t ready this might be a place we need to move a prospect for.

      SS: Has a lot of possibilities this next offseason. Rollins, Reyes, Gonzalez, Hardy. I’d like to see a Reyes or Rollins splash here as long as its not too pricey.

      Pitching: Moving Lowe might be the best course of action here. Beachy has looked good and Teheran won’t be denied for long, Minor could force his way up too. In the pen I’d like to see them let the kids duke it out: Kimbrel, Venters, Moylan, O’Flaherty, Ascencio, Marek, and Martinez with Medlen ending up somewhere in there could be a nasty pen. By then I think you just call Moylan and O’Flaherty your veteran presence and run with it.

      Basically if the Braves can unload Lowe’s salary for next year, trade for a cost controlled CFer, and fill the hole at SS they’ve probably filled out the team at 10-15M under budget. Then I’d like to see contracts for Heyward and Hanson (Like to see that with Jurrjens too but Boras won’t let that happen)

      • Hanson is a Boras client now too, but Heyward might be amenable to a team-friendly deal.

        • Good point on Hanson. My thought on him versus Jurrjens was that JJ was 2 years closer to free agency, but you’re right with Hanson being a Boras client makes it unlikely.

      • I want nothing to do with Jimmy Rollins. Not because I’m a homer, but because he’s declining pretty rapidly….

        • Rollins’ is definitely in decline but he is nowhere near as bad as he was last year, injuries took a toll. I unfortunately expect better from him this year.

          • Since his MVP award in 2007, Rollins has a .258, .320, .414 line. His OPS has seen a significant drop in all 3 years. His bat is declining even without the injuries. The injuries are even more reason to stay away from him. Even at $5-6 million a year, I wouldn’t feel comfortable having Rollins as my teams primary SS. If you want solid defense and extra-base hits, resign Alex Gonzalez. At least he’s proved to be healthier as of late.

  6. If I’m GM, I look to dump Lowe – even though he is pitching great – for financial flexibility. We don’t need relievers – Asencio, Marek, Medlen, Beachy. Teheran comes up in middle of May to avoid super two and completes the rotation. With Lowe off the books Braves should have $30M to obtain a SS and CF, I would take Reyes and Beltran and call it a day.

    • I don’t see the Braves trading Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, or Hudson during the season unless they’re out of the race at the deadline. Teheran may very well be ready, but do you really want 2(possibly 3 if injuries take a toll) rookies in the rotation during a playoff race? The Braves need the stability Lowe provides this season. They may trade some young pitching to fill-in another area, but it won’t be any of those 4. I do expect Jurrjens or Lowe to be moved in the offseason though, assuming the young pitching continues to develop.

    • mbrink12 4 years ago

      I wouldnt dare touch Beltran with even someone else’s money. He’s done. Reyes would be a catalyst for the top of the lineup and I’d take him for no more than $7-9M per.

      • DK8 4 years ago

        I wish the Braves could get Reyes for $7-9m/season, but the only way he signs for that little is if he is hurt for 60 games this year. And at that point there would be some very legit questions about his ability to stay healthy. If he plays 150 games this year, I’m betting that the starting point is 75/5 or 90/6, and that might be the low end.

  7. tomymogo 4 years ago

    Trading tim collins away was a mistake, braves are running low on quality lefty relievers on the farm. But they have 3 quality relievers in AAA, Marek, Juan Abreu, and Jairo Asencio(previously known as Luis Valdez, and was called up because of Moylan’s injury). Linebrink and Sherril have been inconsistent, they either look great or can’t get an out(like yesterday with Linebrink).

    • Venters and EOF make a third lefty reliever a bit redundant (as Sherrill currently is), so lefty reliever depth isn’t too big of a deal. Relievers are by far one of the easiest commodities to find anyway.

      For all the hype, Collins is just another lefty reliever. The strikeouts are nice, but he’s wild and has been hit pretty well thus far. Hard to complain about a trade when the pitcher is currently allowing a .409 OBP. Probably shouldn’t be in the majors right now in the first place…but that’s the Royals’ fault, not his. He’ll probably be great someday, but it ain’t today.


  8. dantheman5 4 years ago

    Rollins, Beltran? You gotta be kidding!

    • inkstainedscribe 4 years ago

      Yeah, great, let’s sign a couple of overpriced guys in their mid-30s and watch them continue to decline …

      • Don’t lump those two comments. I think Rollins is a potential buy low candidate if he has another mediocre season this year. Beltran is just flat out too old and broken to be a center fielder. Also again I don’t like Beltran, but he will be much cheaper next year, and I don’t see either guy getting a long term deal. Rollins would have to rake to get to 3-4 years and I can’t see any situation netting Beltran more than a year. He might make an AL team a decent DH/LF option.

        • DK8 4 years ago

          If Rollins has another mediocre year, I’d take that as an indication of his decline as opposed to an opportunity to buy low.

  9. Wren_and_Stimpy 4 years ago

    Don’t forget that Kenshin Kawakami’s ~7M salary is off the books next year as well.

    I am also in favor of re-signing Alex Gonzalez to a similar deal worth ~3M with a club option and a 750K buyout. Eric Hinkse’s option will almost undoubtedly be picked up.

    McLouth, Sherrill and Linebrink will all be gone at the end of the season. Marek and Medlen will take their places in the bullpen.

    This offseason will be the time to trade Derek Lowe as a time will finally be willing to take on his 15M salary and his replacement is readily available in the Braves system. A straight salary dump for prospects would be beneficial for the Braves.

    I also could see Chipper Jones possibly retiring as he desires to end his career on a high note at above-average production.

    So you figure with Chipper Jones, Derek Lowe, Nate McLouth, George Sherill, Scott Linebrink and Kenshin Kawakami salaries off the books, subtrated by raises to Brian McCann, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty, Dan Uggla, Martin Prado, Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen and Nate McLouth’s buyout, the Braves would have approximately 23M to spend on LF and CF (assuming Prado is shifted back to 3B).

    I figure they Braves signed Josh Willingham to 3/36 with a vesting option for a fourth year to play LF and trade Jair Jurrjens, Arodys Vizcaino, Christian Bethancourt and Jordan Schafer to LA for Matt Kemp to play CF.

    Mike Minor and Julio Teheran take Lowe and Jurrjens’ places in the rotation.

    I also wouldn’t mind re-signing Omar Infante as a utility player.

    Tim Hudson
    Tommy Hanson
    Brandon Beachy
    Mike Minor
    Julio Teheran

    Martin Prado (3B) R
    Jason Heyward (RF) L
    Matt Kemp (CF) R
    Brian McCann (C) L
    Dan Uggla (2B) R
    Josh Willingham (LF) L
    Alex Gonzalez (SS) R
    Freddie Freeman (1B) L

    David Ross
    Eric Hinske
    Omar Infante
    Brooks Conrad
    Matt Young

    Craig Kimbrel (CL)
    Johnny Venters
    Peter Moylan
    Stephen Marek
    Jose Ascenio
    Eric O’Flaherty
    Kris Medlen

    • Not that L.A. is looking to part with Kemp, but it would take more than Vizcaino, Jurrjens, Betanchourt, and Schafer. I mean, unless Kemp has a terrible year.

      If Schafer bounces back, he’s the starting center fielder in 2011. However, if the Rays become sellers, I think Wren should make a strong push for Upton.

      • austinhb 4 years ago

        I have to disagree
        Kemp had an off year last year and is eligible for FA soon. A solid young cost controlled major league pitcher, a projected future ace, a 19 year old stud catcher and a high reward low risk cost controlled CF in Schafer isn’t a bad package

    • Daniel Gray 4 years ago

      I hope they pass on Willingham. He is just a little too injury prone for my blood.

  10. my guess is that Mclouth will be traded by the trade deadline. I have watched Schafer play and he is ready to move up. It all depends on what they can get for Mclouth in a trade as to what they will do next. Mclouth putting up better numbers this year will make him a worthy investment for some team like Washington

    • austinhb 4 years ago

      Schafer is hitting poorly in Gwinette, he is by no means ready he needs more AB’s. McLouth is hitting real well so I don’t think they trade McLouth or Move up Schafer, hell they might even have to bring back McLouth next year if he isn’t ready (at a severely reduced price of course)

  11. I wonder what the D-Backs would want for Stephen Drew? Jose Reyes would be fantastic.

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