2013 Contract Issues: Atlanta Braves

The Braves are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (7)

  • Michael Bourn – The 29-year-old headlines a strong class of free agent center fielders that also includes Shane Victorino and B.J. Upton. Bourn is hitting .320/.376/.403 with 13 stolen bases and The Fielding Bible considered him an elite defender as recently as 2010. He'd be a fit on the 2013 Braves, but others will also come calling for the Boras Corporation client. Atlanta figures to make one qualifying offer after the season, and it'll go to Bourn.
  • Matt Diaz - Diaz can still hit lefties, so there's a role for him on a team that includes its share of left-handed hitting starters.
  • David Ross - Ross could be a fit again in 2013, though powerful catching prospect Evan Gattis continues to hit in the minors.
  • Jack Wilson - Wilson hasn't done much of anything at the plate since the Braves traded for him last summer, so if the front office wants a little more offense from their backup shortstop, Wilson will be out of a job.
  • Chad Durbin - Unless Durbin can limit the longball, he'll be removed from the roster before the offseason arrives.
  • Eric Hinske - Hinske continues to add value as a backup corner player. It won't be surprising if there's room for him on next year's Braves team.
  • Livan Hernandez - The innings eater figures to sign a one-year or minor league deal this offseason. It's too soon to know whether Atlanta will want him back.

Contract Options (3)

  • Chipper Jones: $7MM club/vesting option. Jones has already decided to retire following the 2012 season.
  • Tim Hudson: $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout. It will be hard to do better than Hudson for a net cost of $8MM. Plus, the Braves' pitching staff doesn't seem quite as deep as it did a few months ago.
  • Brian McCann: $12MM club option with a $500K buyout. The Braves will exercise this option following the season and they could look to lock McCann up to a Yadier Molina-like extension.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

The Braves' arbitration eligible players will earn a significant percentage of the team's 2013 payroll. Heyward and Venters will see their salaries spike and Hanson could join some exclusive company with a salary of $4MM-plus for his first year of eligibility. Prado's salary could approach $7MM in his last season before free agency. Jurrjens is a trade and non-tender candidate following his struggles with the Braves and at Triple-A.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Braves have committed just $14.7MM to next year's team — there's Dan Uggla's contract, a couple of option buyouts and not much else. Given that the Braves have typically spent $90MM or so on payroll in recent years, GM Frank Wren should have considerable financial flexibility. However, he will have lots to address between the team's arbitration class, its outfield and its bench.


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34 Comments on "2013 Contract Issues: Atlanta Braves"


jdouble777
3 years 2 months ago

14.7M is very misleading. Chipper’s 14M and Lowe’s 10M is off the books and undoubtedly going to help tremendously; however, everyone they have now will be back and more expensive, some a lot more. Freeman, Beachy, and Kimbrel are going to help their bottom line extensively, but after that it gets less simple. I would say at least 10M of the 24M saves will get chewed in ARB, leaving 14M to play with and bring back Bourne. So, while they are in great shape I still think they are hovering at 75M going into 2013, despite what is contractually obligated. Prado, Hanson, and Heyward are going to cost a lot more than the 1.5M they did this year and as they hit year 2 it would be time for Kimbrel, Freeman, Beachy, and possibly Delgado and Pastonicky following behind so grabbing another big name might not be as much in the budget as it seems. After the Lowe incident I doubt they are interested in that idea anyhow. =0)

Brian HIll
3 years 2 months ago

14 million Chipper, 10 million Lowe and don’t forget to add in the 6.5 million for Bourn. 

Brad
3 years 2 months ago

Also, don’t forget JJs certain to depart 5.5 million and Diaz’s hopeful to depart 2 million.

Brian HIll
3 years 2 months ago

about 8 million from Diaz, Hinske, Ross, Durbin and Hernandez

NL_East_Rivalry
3 years 2 months ago

Unless Liberty raises payroll, Braves may soon have the smallest payroll in the NL EAST

craigkimbrelfan
3 years 2 months ago

I used to be spoiled but I gotta say it makes it pretty interesting when you’re financially limited and don’t have to ability to buy your seasons.  The Rays have been competitive with the lowest payroll in their division for years and I think Atlanta is following along those lines pretty well as of recent years.  Low payroll doesn’t necessarily mean non-competitive.  The org. just has to be smart and do well developing a few young players.  A lot of good talent is on the roster at minimal cost;  Freeman, Heyward, Pastornicky, Beachy and the rest of the young pitchers….

I think at the least the team will be able to free up some money to get Bourn and McCann locked up for a while following 2012.

kimofromkauai
3 years 2 months ago

The mismanagement of Heywards service time becomes apparent now (and going forward).  Many felt he should have opened his rookie season in the minors for a couple of weeks to delay free agency or maybe six weeks to delay arbitration.  He certainly could have been sent down last year for poor performance.

Brad
3 years 2 months ago

 How is it mismangement?  Yes, his clock started in 2010, but he was clearly ready.  Who knows if the Braves would have made the playoffs in 2010 if they had kept Heyward in the minors until June of that season? 

I would only call it “mismanagement” if Heyward had been horrible and the Braves insisted on keeping him up in the majors (neither happened).  A better example of mismangement is Posey, who is eligible for arbitration in 2013, is a Super Two, and was oddly called up late in 2009 but not called up until a month or two into 2010.

kimofromkauai
3 years 2 months ago

His contributions were significant in 2010 but could he have been just as valuable starting out 2 weeks later – or, more significantly, he stunk in 2011 and could have certainly be shipped out, thus buying some service time.

I agree with others who think that winning is more important than service time and in a perfect world that would be the way it should be.

But in this case, when Heyward is significantly rewarded one year earlier than necessary and becomes a free agent one year earlier than necessary what will the consequences to the fans and team be then?

Posey (and Lincecum) are good examples of poor clock management and the consequences.

Jeff
3 years 2 months ago

 Heyward didn’t stink in 2011, he was league-average, and the Braves had zero OF depth last year.

WIthout Heyward Braves don’t make postseason in 2010, and Braves might have gotten past the Giants if injuries hadn’t ripped the team apart (it’s part of baseball, not saying Giants wouldn’t have won, and that Rick Ankiel moment was awesome)

3 years 2 months ago

 He is hitting arbitration at the normal time.  All players hit arbitration after 3 years of service time except for those who qualify as Super Two which Heyward did not.  Had he qualified he would have entered arbitration after his second season (IE this past offseason).

bill waters
3 years 2 months ago

It’s sad to me in a way with fans seem to be more concerned about starting arb clocks, than winning….It’s nice to see teams bring up guys because they are ready…if anything some elite guys regress since they aren’t being challenged…
The TV contract that Liberty inherited is perhaps the worst in baseball, and has something like 17 years left on it…it will harm the braves for decades unless someone can find a way out of it…

citizen
3 years 2 months ago

I could see atlanta moving jair jurjens but trying to lock up mccann.
mccanns contract will be the biggest issue next to bourn for 2014 and 2013.
Mccann has most of atlanta’s production. I dont know of any 3b they have in the minors to replace jones and may need to sign or trade for a 3b.
  I would to see bringing up costanza or peter moylan.
All of this in interesting but mlb is not even at the trade deadline so this would be better served looked at later in the season.

a5ehren
3 years 2 months ago

Theoretically (not that the Braves have shown any inclination to do this), you could slide Uggla’s bad glove down the defensive spectrum to 3B, Pastornicky to 2B, and bring in Andrelton Simmons to SS.

Assuming that Wright and Youkilis even hit free agency, the Braves don’t really have the money to play in that league anyway, so it will be interesting to see what solution they come up with.

westprice
3 years 2 months ago

what bad glove of uggla’s? he doesn’t have great range, but i think he has been a very solid 2b with freddie at 1b to cut back on his throwing errors.

Jeff
3 years 2 months ago

 He’s the worst 2B in the majors.  A lot of Braves fans want to hide his glove in LF. 

Braves more then I think any other NL team over the past few years would have benefitted from the DH.

westprice
3 years 2 months ago

those people that want him to move to LF would be wishing that he stayed at 2b. he doesn’t have the mobility to cover an outfield position, and while he does have some errors, he would look like fool in the outfield. he’s too short to play first. he would get eaten up by balls at third. he isn’t the best second baseman, but IMO he isn’t the worst. and like a lot of other people, i would hate the DH in the NL. it cuts the strategy and use of pinch runners and hitters.

jdouble777
3 years 2 months ago

He is a DH. Is is hilarious someone would argue his ability to play defense at second bast, not 1B, and in the same sentence say he does not have range. He is another reason that the payroll will be hampered for a long time for ATL in that ARB and in general teams pay for HRs and nothing else…not good baseball. Do not get me wrong, he is a solid 2B, but in all reality INF’s should be based on their OBP and defense WAY more heavily if there were so Mr. Uggla would likely be more in the 7M range, as would Pena.

3 years 2 months ago

horrible idea. 3rd base is much more difficult to play than 2nd, and uggla’s glove is not bad at all. He just has some limited range and makes a few throwing errors from time to time. Moving him to 3rd would be crazy

3 years 2 months ago

Terdoslavich has been playing well at 3B and Prado can also play 3B

3 years 2 months ago

 Terdoslavich will have a hard time getting razzed for his name in the bigs. I would bet he struggles mightily if/when he is called up.

3 years 2 months ago

He didn’t just get this name, he’s had it his entire life. If it affected him he’d be in another profession. If it matters it’s pronounced tur-das-lavitch not how it looks

Conner Miller
3 years 2 months ago

Prado is the replacement for Chipper, until Francisco, Salcedo, or Terdoslavich prove otherwise, I don’t think we worry about that to much. Really we are pretty set for next season as well, have to get a LF to replace Prado, lock up Bourn or find another CF and add a few bench/bullpen guys. Not sure if any position player is ready to move up next year but I’m sure a few of our arms can come up and replace the weak points in the pen and rotation. 

Brian HIll
3 years 2 months ago

Coming off the books is 14 million from Chipper, 10 million from Lowe, 6.5 million from Bourn, 5.5 million from JJ, 8 million from Hinske / Ross / Diaz / Dubin / Wilson / Hernandez.  So that’s 44 million + or – extentions to a few players (McCann, Huddy) to pay for ARB increases, build a bench, sign a LF and CF, and possibly a bullpen arm.  Though I think they have enough arms in AAA to cover the pen next year. 

jdouble777
3 years 2 months ago

Your are talking about losing 3B, CF, ad four/five other players… Those will take a substantial amount of money as well ARB, locking up McCann, an signing a solid CF. Other questions: Does Hudson have another year in the tank? Is Minor going to improve? Will Heyward stay healthy? Has Freeman hit a ceiling? I like Prado, McCann, Freeman, and Uggla but the rest pose a few question marks… I like Hanson, Beachy, Delgado, and the prospects of Teheran, Vizcaino, but Gilmartin and crew are not going to help next year… The bullpen is stout and set. If they lose out on Bourn, Upton, and Victorino, Hudson runs out of gas, Heyward continues to struggle, and/or the prospects don’t evolve into the cavalry they should be then things could go south in a hurry. Then again, that is a lot of iffs and they will likely be tough but maybe not diesel next year. 

3 years 2 months ago

Over the past couple of years the Braves’ front office hasn’t been faced with many difficult decisions.  At least not the kind of difficult decisions that could potentially determine the fate of the franchise over the next few years.

Signing McCann to a long term deal is not a sure thing.  In terms of production he’s probably already peaked, and pudgy catchers with limited athleticism don’t age well.  In Gattis and Betancourt the Braves have potential replacements, and speaking monetarily, catcher is perhaps the least efficient position in which to buy offense. The money could almost certainly be better spent elsewhere.  But there’s no denying his numbers up to this point, and he’s the face of the franchise right now.

People keep talking about Prado as Chipper’s replacement, but Prado is only a year away from free agency himself.  He does a lot of things well, buts he’s not exceptional at any one thing.  He’s a solid player, but is he worth $7+ million a year?  Do you want to give a long term contract to a guy who’s not likely to ever put an OPS much over .800?

Bourn’s game is entirely dependent upon speed.  He’s a one tool players who has maximized the usefulness of that one tool.  He’s a valuable players now, but once that speed goes he’ll be useless.  It looks like it will take a 5 year deal to keep him.  Who wants to bet that he can still run at 35? 

Obviously a cash strapped team like the Braves can’t keep all three of these guys.  There simply isn’t enough room in the budget. 

A team like Rays to looks to maximize bang for the buck and ROI probably wouldn’t resign any of these guys.  Instead they would be traded for prospects before reaching free agency. 

Frank Wren will have to make some very tough decisions about some very key players in the not so distant future.

Brv Rocks
3 years 2 months ago

You might want to check the stats of Prado again.  He has put up an .800+ OPS every full season in the majors except last season.  Yes, he is worth 7M per season.

It is also a no brainer to extend McCann’s contract, particularly if he would sign a Yadier Molina like extension.

3 years 2 months ago

 I think the Braves with definitely make a sincere effort to retain McCann.  He’s the face of the franchise.  But, he shown nothing to indicate that he’s willing to take a big hometown discount.  Signing a deal like Molina’s would be a significant hometown discount.  There will certainly be big market AL teams making him offers.  Moving to the AL, where he could DH, has the potential to lengthen his career significantly. 

3 years 2 months ago

“He’s shown nothing to indicate that he’s willing to take a big hometown discount”?  He did that when he signed his first contract!  And even still, he’s certainly done nothing to indicate that he’s NOT willing.  We’ll just have to wait and see, but BMac seems like the type of player that would take some kind of discount—he loves Atlanta and even has the same agent as Chipper, who also took “hometown discounts”…

Brian HIll
3 years 2 months ago

Everyone is compairing the Braves to the Rays, but 20 million dollars is a big difference in payroll. 

3 years 2 months ago

 Yeah, 20 million is a lot of money.  I don’t think the Braves need to manage their money in quite the same the Rays do.  But there are things the Rays do that the Braves could learn from.

And if all the mumbo jumbo we keep hearing about the Braves awful  TV deal is true, then the Braves payroll may be stuck where its at for the indefinite future while payrolls around the league continue to rise.  

Raymond C Laracuenta
3 years 2 months ago

If the Braves had the Ray’s GM and Head of Scouting + a 90mm payroll they would have won a WS in the 2000s.

Wren likes to make one medium sized move (every few years) and then reboot with everyone else.  Tweaking up the arb numbers until he has to let them fall by the wayside. 

He won’t extend Prado, Mac or JJ.  Bourne will get offered a 9-10mm/yr deal to save face but he will go elsewhere.

Wren & the Braves tend to sell low and or just let people walk.  He could have had Hunter Pence in the OF this year & next (at a min) if he gave up Minor or Delgado along with Schafer.

So far neither is looking like a world beater.

Don’t get anyone starter on the players he could have had for JJ when he was at his peak.

Sometimes broke clubs need to trade a guy at his peak to fight another day.  Wren refuses to do that b/c he wants to stumble into a WC slot every season at a min.

3 years 2 months ago

My comments are being eaten by the blog monster.

tomymogo
3 years 2 months ago

How much will Venters earn? with all the good work and the number of appearances he’s had.

Anyway Chipper Jones 14 million, Lowe 10 million, Jurrjens 5.5 million, Bourn 6.85 million, Ross 1.625 million, Diaz 2 million, Hinske 1.5 million, Wilson 1 million, Chad Durbin 0.9 million, and Livan Hernandez 0.75 million. 

It’s a total of 44.125 million coming off the books, but it’s also 10 players on the roster. Chipper and Lowe are sure things that are coming off the books, that’s 24 million. JJ, Wilson, Diaz, and Durbin I would say as well. So it’s 33.4 million that are we’re almost certain are coming off the books.

Bourn obviously is not gonna make 6.85 million, more like 11 mill/per yr at least if it’s 5 years. So I’m saying the Braves offer 5 years 55 million which I think it’s fair, and considering Bourn is a speed guy and is heading to his age 30 season, we can’t expect much more 50 or 60 SB seasons.

Assuming Bourn takes it, and Braves resign Hinske, Ross, and Livan for a similar salary, they’ll have 28.25 million free for other free agents, arbitration, and extensions. 

Braves should sign McCann, Beachy, and Kimbrel to long term contracts. They should call up Evan Gattis, and Andrealton Simmons. Simmons will play SS everyday making Pastornicky the new Jack Wilson, or maybe it’s time for Uggla to move to LF and let Pastornicky play 2B. If Uggla refuses, then play Gattis at LF.