The Braves are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series. Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.
- First time: Tommy Hanson ($4MM), Jason Heyward ($3.5MM), Kris Medlen ($2MM), Jonny Venters ($1.4MM), Cristhian Martinez ($700K)
- Second time: Paul Janish ($900K)
- Third time: Martin Prado ($7.7MM), Jair Jurrjens ($5.5MM), Eric O'Flaherty ($3.8MM), Peter Moylan ($800K)
Let's begin with the Braves' three arbitration eligible starting pitchers. Jurrjens, 27 in January, spent the 2011-12 offseason immersed in trade rumors and was demoted to Triple-A four starts into this season. He rejoined the club in June, and after six more starts was moved to a relief role. A DL stint for a groin strain capped off the lost season and his Braves career. Most expect Jurrjens to be non-tendered at the end of the month. It's worth noting that if there is a team that valued Ervin Santana at $12MM, there might be one that values Jurrjens at less than half that salary.
Jurrjens' move to the bullpen was tied to Medlen's promotion to the rotation. The 27-year-old was ridiculously good in 12 starts, posting a 0.97 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, and 0.54 HR/9. He'd undergone Tommy John surgery in August 2010, and initially returned to the Majors in a relief role. Medlen was so good as a starter that the Braves lined him up to start their play-in game against the Cardinals. If the Braves are sold, they could consider locking Medlen up to a Johnny Cueto-type contract, four years and $27-30MM plus a club option.
Hanson, 26, pitched better than his 4.48 ERA but allowed a lot of hits and home runs in a disappointing campaign. The team's Opening Day starter, he missed some time with a back strain this season and his average fastball velocity fell below 90 miles per hour for the first season in his career. He still managed a healthy strikeout rate at 8.3 per nine innings. The Braves were unable to dump Jurrjens before his value tanked; now they must assess Hanson's value for the next three seasons and determine a course of action. In the short-term, he'll obviously be tendered a contract.
Prado had a strong year primarily as the team's left fielder, providing value on both offense and defense. It seems likely the 29-year-old will move to third base for 2013, with Chipper Jones retiring. Prado is entering his walk year, and the Braves could try to lock him up in the range of Howie Kendrick's four-year, $33.5MM contract.
Heyward is arbitration eligible for the first time, fresh off the best season of his young career. Nick Markakis' six-year, $66.1MM extension would be a solid target, though that deal was done nearly four years ago so the Braves may have to do better. Janish began the season at Triple-A in the Reds' organization, missed a month with a broken wrist, and was dealt to Atlanta in mid-July. His season ended in September with a dislocated shoulder, and he's a non-tender candidate.
In the bullpen, O'Flaherty, Venters, and Martinez are in good standing. O'Flaherty, 28 in February, is entering a contract year. The Braves could look to tack on a free agent year. Moylan had shoulder surgery in September 2011 and signed a minor league deal to return to the Braves in January. He wouldn't cost a lot through arbitration, but is a candidate to be non-tendered if the Braves would prefer to have the roster spot open for now.
If only Prado, Hanson, O'Flaherty, Heyward, Medlen, Venters, and Martinez are tendered contracts, the Braves are looking at an estimated $23.1MM for seven players.
Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors. To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.