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Jason Heyward Rumors
The Mets made one of the best under-the-radar improvements this offseason by upgrading their outfield defense, ESPN's Mike Petriello writes (Insider-only). With Juan Lagares starting in center field for the entire season, and Curtis Granderson and Chris Young on either side of him, the Mets should be much better off defensively than they were with Lucas Duda and others last season. Petriello also lists the Cardinals' defense, in both the infield and the outfield, as one that should be dramatically improved as a result of this offseason's moves. The Cardinals acquired Peter Bourjos for David Freese, improving their outfield while allowing Matt Carpenter to shift back to third. Another new addition, Mark Ellis, figures to help at second base. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Speaking of the Cardinals, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says in a slideshow that the 2014 Cards should be even better than the 97-game-winning 2013 edition, and their defense is a key part of the reason why.
- It will be tough for the Braves to sign Jason Heyward to a long-term deal, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. With Heyward just two years away from being eligible for free agency, he has less incentive to accept the security of an extension, and therefore won't be inclined to give the Braves much of a discount. It might be better for the Braves to focus their efforts on signing Andrelton Simmons and/or Freddie Freeman, O'Brien suggests.
Let's start the weekend up with a poll. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted recently, two young stars (Adam Jones and Miguel Montero) signed significant extensions during May of 2012. While there have not been significant rumblings about any similar deals recently, the Jones and Montero deals both sprung up with relatively little advance buzz: Jones said he was not aware of any talks with the Orioles just a month before his six-year, $85.5MM deal was inked. And the build up to Montero's five-year, $60MM extension consisted largely of the Diamondbacks' acknowledgement that the team was open to in-season negotiations.
Jones had one year of arbitration eligibility remaining when he signed, while Montero would have become a free agent at the end of the year. Both were relatively young (26 and 28, respectively) and fairly well established as above-average players at premium defensive positions. And each had been with their teams for all or virtually all of their big league careers.
With those deals in mind, let's take a look at some generally comparable position players who could be positioned for similar deals. We will not include Robinson Cano, as he is at a different level of performance and contract extension, along with being somewhat older. Anyhow, we already asked MLBTR readers what they think about the likelihood of a Cano extension. Likewise, we'll leave out Chase Headley, given his recent comments. (Also, MLBTR readers just weighed in on a possible Headley extension, with the majority believing a trade was more likely than an extension.)
The Nationals' Ian Desmond, 27, has continued to build off of his emergence last year. He sports a .296/.311/.530 line, although he has also registered seven early errors. The shortstop has spent his entire career in the former-Expos organization, and is poised to hit the open market in 2016. We know the Nats are open to negotiating an extension with Desmond, and the Elvis Andrus signing provides a relevant (albeit imperfect) point of reference.
Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters is another obvious candidate. He will turn 27 later this month, and is looking at free agency in 2016. Ongoing negotiations between Wieters and the O's are seemingly at a simmer, but could pick up at any time. While Wieters is off to a bit of a slow start, slashing just .224/.297/.388 to date, he also probably had less to prove this season than Desmond.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, 29, is similarly situated to Montero. He has played his entire career in Boston, but is set to become a free agent after the season. While the center fielder has not returned to his MVP-level 2011 season, when he exploded for 32 home runs, he has bounced back from his injury-shortened 2012. Thus far, his batting line (.286/.338/.405) and league-leading steal totals (11) are right in line with his strong 2008-2009 seasons. While both player and team appear interested in discussing an extension, Ellsbury's representation by Scott Boras — and the possibility that he could significantly raise his value with an injury-free 2013 — could make a deal unlikely.
Jason Heyward of the Braves is two years from free agency at just 23 years old, but as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes notes, the cost-conscious Braves could look to extend him. Heyward is currently on the DL after undergoing an appendectomy, and has had a poor start to the year. Nevertheless, he has established himself as few big leaguers have at his age.
Austin Jackson, the Tigers' center fielder, is a young 26 and still two years from free agency. He is also a client of Scott Boras. But his strong early track record could make him a target for Detroit to try and lock up early. With so many big-money free agent deals on the books, it could make sense for the Tigers to try and save on Jackson by guaranteeing him money in advance. Jackson is off to another good start, putting up a .293/.356/.407 line to go with five steals.
Commissioner Bud Selig says he wants his stewardship of the game to be judged by the value of MLB's franchises, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. He called the Dodgers' sale "stunning," and said that "every franchise is worth a lot more today … because the game is healthy." Selig also weighed in on the DH, saying that "some cataclysmic event" would be needed to keep the bat out of National League pitchers' hands. Here are some more notes from around the National League:
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes is taking a hard look at the club's farm system to find a solution to the team's pitching woes, writes Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. According to Fangraphs, the Padres' rotation has put up negative 1.4 WAR thus far, a full .5 WAR worse than the second-to-last Astros staff. Jenkins says that the front office's "unwillingness or failure" to supplement the team's less-than-promising rotation over the offseason is to blame for the club's present difficulties.
- Two in-house options for San Diego are minor league arms Tim Stauffer and Sean O'Sullivan, both of whom possess similar out clauses in their contracts, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Center says that both pitchers can opt out around June 1 if they have not been elevated to the Padres' big league roster.
- The emergence of catcher Evan Gattis could ultimately have an impact on the Braves' plans behind the dish, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The team has benefitted enormously from his performance as stalwart Brian McCann works his way back from injury. But as Bowman says, the first-place Braves have every reason to try and work McCann back into his starting role, and still have Gerald Laird locked up for this year and next. On the other hand, with the Braves already unlikely to re-sign McCann after this season, Gattis's continued performance could make that decision much easier for the team.
- Meanwhile, Bowman says the Braves were interested in locking up outfielder Jason Heyward and first baseman Freddie Freeman during the offseason. Despite the team's efforts to initiate talks, however, they were rebuffed by the young stars. Heyward currently stands to reach free agency in 2016, with Freeman following him in 2017.
- Cubs starter Matt Garza suffered yet another setback, failing to make his first rehab start after suffering from what Cubs manager Dale Sveum called a "dead arm," writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute. Garza is, however, scheduled for long toss tomorrow and should be set up for a comeback start soon, David Furones writes for MLB.com. Of course, the Cubs would like not only to benefit from Garza's work on the mound, but to begin his audition for teams looking for rotation help at the trade deadline. In addition to the already-noted Chase Utley, Garza is one of several players that ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Insider) to keep an eye on as trade season approaches. Others include Mets catcher John Buck and Indians reliever Chris Perez.
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward is one of few star-caliber players currently going year-to-year. Just 23 years old, Heyward is under the Braves' control as an arbitration eligible player through 2015. What would a fair extension look like for the Excel Sports Management client?
One comparable could be the Orioles' Adam Jones. Jones signed a six-year, $85.5MM extension in May of last year, about three months after the salary for his second arbitration year was determined. A Heyward extension, if it were done during this season, would include that second arb year. Jones was closer to free agency than Heyward is, which generally gets the player more money. Since Heyward has less service time than Jones did, perhaps the Braves could replace the fifth guaranteed free agent year with a club option. That would put us around $75MM over six years (2014-19). Even if the 2020 club option is exercised, Heyward would be able to enter free agency at age 31 and get another big contract.
The Braves, perhaps, could point to an older but more evenly matched Orioles outfielder extension, the one Baltimore did with Nick Markakis prior to the 2009 season. At the three-year service point, Markakis compared favorably to Heyward in terms of OBP and SLG. Both players had exactly 59 career home runs, but Markakis had 33% more RBIs and a superior platform year, one in which he posted a .406 OBP. So even though that contract is four years old, the Braves could make a case against guaranteeing much more than the $63.1MM Markakis received covering his second arbitration year through his third free agent year (five years in total for that slice). The Orioles did not get a club option on Markakis or Jones, however, so that will be a tough sell for Heyward.
One thing to note about Heyward, of which the Braves are surely aware, is that last year he derived a lot of value through defense, and that generally doesn't pay in arbitration. Last year's high-water marks of 27 home runs and 82 RBIs are decent, but Heyward would have to take his offensive counting stats to another level to break the bank in arbitration. In February there was talk of the Braves trying to buy out Heyward's arbitration years, but I don't see much reason for the club to do a two-year deal. They haven't done a long arbitration year extension in general since Brian McCann in March 2007, according to our extension tracker, and Heyward has significantly more service time than McCann did. If the Braves want to secure some of Heyward's free agent years, now might be the ideal time. A five or six-year offer in the $63-75MM range would be fair.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
For that special baseball fan in your life, Valentine's Day means dressing up in an Expos throwback jersey and a fake mustache and glasses before hitting the town. Here's the latest from around the majors as Spring Training is almost in full swing…
- The Braves haven't talked to Jason Heyward about a long-term extension, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports. Heyward was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and agreed to a one-year, $3.65MM deal for 2013. Heyward is under team control through the 2015 season. Bowman thinks the Braves could also talk to Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman about multiyear deals before the season begins.
- Also from Bowman's story, Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk said the organization is willing to spend to keep the team in contention for years to come. "Money is not going to stand between us and getting it done at this point because we are that close," McGuirk said. "I'm talking about [the] long term and short term. I'm talking about talent that is here and talent that isn't here."
- Carlos Marmol said he "was a little sad" when the Cubs tried to deal him to the Angels earlier this offseason, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine writes. Marmol's contract expires after this season and the reliever said he wants to stay with the Cubs. Levine speculates that the Angels could revisit a Marmol deal since Ryan Madson will likely start the year on the disabled list.
- Bronson Arroyo is entering the final year of his Reds contract and the veteran realizes it could be his last year in Cincinnati, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. "When you have a team as we do, where everyone is coming into their own kind of at the same time, and add the fact we have a couple of monster deals already in place, it's going to be tough for me to stick around here if I have [a] successful season," Arroyo said.
- Given the time Reds GM Walt Jocketty is spending on Homer Bailey's contract, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer figures Bailey could be in line for a multiyear deal. The Reds have already signed two other arbitration-eligible pitchers (Mat Latos and Logan Ondrusek) to two-year extensions this offseason. Bailey is in his second year of arb eligibility.
- Kyle Lohse's landing spot is debated by Jeff Sullivan and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Lohse is expected to find a contact soon, though a number of teams linked to the right-hander are seemingly distancing themselves. Sullivan and Cameron suggest the Rangers, Mariners, Padres and Indians could all be fits for Lohse and the two weigh the costs of Lohse's projected value against the value of the draft pick that most teams would have to give up to sign him.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists John Mozeliak's 10 best moves as Cardinals general manager. Mozeliak signed a new extension with the Cards today that will keep him with the team through the 2016 season.
Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements — those worth less than $4MM — right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.
Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB…
- The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM). Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
- The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter). Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
- The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
- Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
- The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
- The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
- The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
- The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
- The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
- The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter). Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
- The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
- The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter.
- The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
- The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
- The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.
- The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Ellis | Alejandro De Aza | Alex Avila | Alfredo Aceves | Andrew Bailey | Andrew Miller | Antonio Bastardo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Austin Jackson | Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Parnell | Boone Logan | Boston Red Sox | Brad Ziegler | Brandon Moss | Brennan Boesch | Brian Duensing | Brian Matusz | Bud Norris | Burke Badenhop | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Davis | Chris Johnson | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Cristhian Martinez | Daniel Bard | Detroit Tigers | Doug Fister | Edinson Volquez | Edward Mujica | Emilio Bonifacio | Eric O'Flaherty | Franklin Morales | Gaby Sanchez | Gordon Beckham | Gregor Blanco | Houston Astros | Ian Desmond | J.A. Happ | Jason Heyward | Jed Lowrie | Jeff Niemann | Jeff Samardzija | Jerry Blevins | Joe Smith | Josh Thole | Justin Masterson | Kansas City Royals | Kendrys Morales | Kris Medlen | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Lou Marson | Luke Hochevar | Matt Albers | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Mitchell Boggs | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Phil Coke | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Roger Bernadina | Ronald Belisario | Ross Detwiler | Ryan Roberts | Sam Fuld | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tommy Hanson | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Troy Patton | Tyler Clippard | Tyler Colvin | Washington Nationals
On this date last year the Mets released Oliver Perez with one year and $12MM remaining on his contract. Perez, now a member of the Mariners organization, hasn't appeared in the Major Leagues since. Here are some links from his former division…
- After talking to a Mets official, "it doesn't seem" like the team has talked about cutting Mike Pelfrey, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). However, the Mets are "well aware of the fact" that Pelfrey's contract is non-guaranteed and, if the right-hander is cut, the Mets will only have to pay a portion of his $5.68MM salary. Pelfrey has had a very rough Spring Training, posting a 14.90 ERA in 9 2/3 innings of work.
- The Diamondbacks aren't going to trade Gerardo Parra to the Nationals, a D'Backs source tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter).
- The Phillies are looking for infield help but it's "doubtful" they would try to re-acquire Wilson Valdez, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Phils dealt Valdez to the Reds in January since the Phillies felt they were already set for utility infield options — somewhat ironic given their current position.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News argues that the Phillies need to add a veteran infielder give the questionable health of their projected starters. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Michael Martinez are all currently dealing with injuries.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney gets the sense that the Braves’ on-field personnel prefer Andrelton Simmons for the starting shortstop job, while the front office favors Tyler Pastornicky. Such divergences of opinion are common and not necessarily problematic, as Olney notes.
- Olney hears from talent evaluators who say Jair Jurrjens has struggled to command his fastball and that Jason Heyward is "still thinking about his mechanics" at the plate.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
On this date 25 years ago Andre Dawson signed a one-year, $650K contract with the Cubs. Owners were colluding against players at the time, and Dawson had even offered the Cubs a blank check earlier that winter. Dawson would go on to win the 1987 NL MVP, though the Cubs finished last in the NL East that year. Here are today's links…
- The Royals have been grinding through negotiations with Alex Gordon and it won’t be surprising if they complete an extension with the outfielder, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes.
- Jason Heyward and Travis Snider are among the former top prospects who struggled in 2011, but still have potential, ESPN.com's Keith Law writes.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic identifies the Blue Jays, Angels, Padres or Red Sox as teams with catching depth that could match up with the Diamondbacks on possible trades. However, there doesn't seem to be any real chance of the Diamondbacks acquiring Nick Hundley or Yasmani Grandal from the Padres any time soon.
The National League portion of the playoffs don't start until tomorrow, but there's plenty of news coming out of Senior Circuit. Let's round up some links from the NL East…
- "That's a tough call, a tough call" joked Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies when asked by Newsday's David Lennon if he would play in New York (Twitter link). Rollins will become a free agent after the season, like Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Derek Lowe is not projected to have a spot in the rotation next year (Twitter link). The bullpen or a trade are options. Lowe is owed $15MM next year, the final one on his contract.
- Wren also said that Jason Heyward is not guaranteed to start in right field next year, but the GM told MLB.com's Mark Bowman that the Braves have never talked about trading the 22-year-old (Twitter link).
- Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com looked at five issues the Nationals must deal with this offseason, including settling on a manager.
The Braves will be facing extra pressure this offseason as the team tries to recover from its September collapse. Here's the latest from Turner Field….
- "There is some sentiment within the organization that Atlanta might be better off dealing Jason Heyward," writes ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Heyward suffered through a difficult sophomore season and as a result, "there are voices within the franchise asking the question of whether he can be counted on" as a long-term building block. I'd say that there's little chance the club gives up such a promising young talent, though as the Yunel Escobar trade showed, the Braves aren't afraid to deal a quality player if they feel the player isn't a fit. The Braves would be selling low on Heyward, though they would still recoup a nice return given his reputation and impressive 2010 rookie season.
- Chipper Jones says the team's September failure hasn't affected his decision to return in 2012, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Fredi Gonzalez confirmed that the entire Braves' coaching staff will return next year, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- The Braves don't require a major overhaul, opines Fangraphs' Eno Sarris, though he suggests a few position switches that could improve the team's defense.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription req'd) agrees that the Braves don't need to shake up their roster and suggests that Atlanta could be one of the top suitors for Jose Reyes. Bowden also notes that the Braves have fewer looming issues than their September collapse partners in Boston: "While age and a barren farm system dim the Red Sox's upside going into 2012, the Braves have a much brighter outlook."