Kris Medlen Rumors

NL Notes: Thornburg, Henderson, Medlen, Phils, Tulo

The Brewers will go the rest of the way without righties Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Thornburg will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in a bid to avoid surgery on his elbow, while Henderson may need shoulder surgery. Thornburg, 25, tossed 29 2/3 innings before being shut down, while the 31-year-old Henderson (who saved 28 games last season) scuffled through just 11 1/3 frames.

Here’s more out of the National League …

  • Braves hurler Kris Medlen is just two and a half weeks away from beginning to throw again after his second Tommy John surgery, and feels confident that he’ll be back on the hill  “at some point next season,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But it remains to be seen whether he’ll work his way back with Atlanta, as his current $5.8MM salary and status as a two-time TJ patient makes him a non-tender possibility. “I’m a little nervous about it, just because it’s not in my hands,” said Medlen. “… It’s exciting to be able to pick up a ball in a couple of weeks, but I’m not going to lie, the contract stuff and wanting to come back — I mean, that’s somewhat up in the air this time, so it’s a little nerve-racking, but all I can do is get healthy.” In spite of his uncertain future, the 28-year-old righty should draw plenty of interest around the league if the Braves allow him to hit the open market.
  • Were it not for Jonathan Papelbon‘s continued presence at the back of the Phillies‘ bullpen, young righty Ken Giles would likely have moved into the closer’s role, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. Commenting on the story, Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link) argues that the club should move Papelbon back into a setup role to give Giles an audition as a 9th-inning option and to prevent Papelbon from finishing enough games for his 2016 option to vest at $13MM. While this approach has some facial appeal, I would note that allowing Giles to begin racking up saves now will ultimately raise his price significantly when he ultimately reaches arbitration. (And, of course, there is the question of how to handle Papelbon’s insistence that he continues to close.)
  • Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. again discussed his organization’s future, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Declining to give many specifics, Amaro said that the “biggest plan is to make sure we improve offensively and with our pitching overall,” saying he will look to address those (rather broadly-framed) needs “in a variety of ways.” Sitting 14 games back in the division and 11 out of the wild card, the Phillies are nonetheless not entirely ready to give up hope this year. “Right now, we’re trying to win as many games as possible,” said Amaro. “At the same time, at some point, we’re going to have to start looking to the future. … And at some point, we may be looking more at what we have to do for 2015 as far as what’s going on, on the field. … We’re not quite there yet.”
  • Though Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies continues to play shortstop at a very high level, it is time he considered moving to first base, argues Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. Tulowitzki’s bat is obviously good enough to make the move — he led the league in all three triple-slash categories (.340/.432/.603) when he suffered his season-ending hip injury — but switching to first would obviously sap a good portion of his immense bottom-line value. On the other hand, of course, it is fair to wonder whether playing the least-demanding spot on the diamond might not only help keep Tulowitzki on the field but might also enable him to hit at a top-end level even further into the six years (and $118MM) left on his contract.

Medlen To Undergo Tommy John; Beachy To Receive 2nd Opinion

MARCH 17: Medlen will undergo the second Tommy John surgery of his career tomorrow, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Meanwhile, Beachy is headed to Los Angeles for further evaluation after also being seen today by Dr. James Andrews.

Comments from GM Frank Wren certainly made it sound as if Beachy could be headed in the same direction, even if he is holding out hope, as Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports“I think it’s natural for guys to want to exhaust every possibility before they ultimately make that decision that I’m going to have surgery,” Wren said. “Sometimes these decisions aren’t black and white. There’s enough gray that they want just another set of eyes and another impression on what’s being seen.” The possibility of a second Tommy John procedure for Beachy was reported several days ago.

Looking ahead, the Braves could be in a tough spot next fall, when Medlen will qualify for his final trip through arbitration. He avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a $5.8MM salary, and the resulting high salary floor could make it tough for Atlanta to tender him a contract for 2015. Medlen will not even be nine months into the recovery process at the point at which tender decisions are due. Teams have guaranteed money under similar circumstances — indeed, the Braves promised Gavin Floyd $4MM to join the club for 2014 — but the fact that this is Medlen's second UCL replacement certainly increases the risk.  

MARCH 12: Medlen told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman (Twitter link), that he has spent the past two days preparing himself for a second Tommy John surgery. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says there is a "high likelihood" that Medlen will need Tommy John. O'Brien relays that Medlen was "angry and in denial" after injuring his arm on Sunday; he threw two more pitches before exiting the game (Twitter links).

MARCH 11: Braves right-hander Kris Medlen received his MRI results Tuesday and consulted with team doctors before GM Frank Wren addressed the media. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was on-hand as Wren revealed to the public that the MRI showed "some involvement in the ligament." However, MRIs on patients that have already undergone Tommy John surgery are difficult to read, and Medlen will therefore undergo further tests and meet with Dr. James Andrews to get another opinion before determining if surgery is required.

While Wren wouldn't comment on specific names, he admitted that the team is exploring the starting pitching market for additional help. O'Brien reports that the Braves have definitely reached out to Ervin Santana as one possibility. Wren called the Braves' mounting pitching injuries "worrisome," though the team believes Brandon Beachy's biceps tightness to be routine for players who have undergone elbow surgeries in the past (per O'Brien's Twitter).

Santana threw a two-inning simulated game yesterday and may wait a day or two before signing, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported last night. In that report, he added that financial concern is the main deterrent for the Braves, whose primary competition is the Orioles and Blue Jays. Baltimore has offered a one-year, $13MM deal plus incentives, while Toronto is offering one year and $14MM without incentives. The Twins have offered a three-year deal reported to be in the $30-33MM range, but Santana's preference is a one-year deal, as he could essentially guarantee himself roughly that amount over two years by signing for roughly $14MM for this season and getting a qualifying offer next offseason.

The potential loss of Medlen would be a devastating blow for a Braves rotation that already lost Tim Hudson to free agency and could be without Mike Minor for the early portion of April. Atlanta was projected to have a rotation of Medlen, Minor, Beachy, Julio Teheran and Alex Wood to open the season, with Gavin Floyd eventually slotting in once recovered from Tommy John surgery. Now, they may have to turn to Freddy Garcia, David Hale and other internal candidates, which would be less than ideal for a team expecting to contend in 2014.


Braves Notes: Santana, Payroll, Wren, Medlen

The Braves were the surprise winners of the Ervin Santana sweepstakes, signing a one-year, $14.1MM deal with the free agent right-hander earlier today.  We've already published one batch of items about how the Santana signing impacts the other teams who were in the hunt for his services, but here's some news about what the signing means for Atlanta…

  • Santana's deal will raise the Braves' payroll to around the $107MM threshold, but club chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk has no problem with the added money since the team is "in a winning mode," he tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman.  "It's the right time.  Money was not the issue so much as, 'Is it the right time to do it?' We want to send a message to the guys in this clubhouse, our fans and our sponsors and the whole organization that we expect to win."
  • "The [Braves'] announced move to Cobb County has become the gift that keeps on giving," Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (Insider access required).  Since the team's new stadium plan was announced, the Braves have had the financial ability to sign Santana and ink several key players to multiyear extensions.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren deserves credit for acting quickly to sign Santana, Jeff Schultz of the Journal-Constitution writes, once it became clear that Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy's injuries were serious.  In Schultz's words, "more often than not [Wren] is not proactive in situations like this."
  • The Braves didn't approach Medlen about an extension this winter, David O'Brien of the Journal-Constitution tweets.  Medlen agreed to a one-year, $5.8MM deal for 2014 to avoid arbitration in his second arb-eligible season, and he is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.  Of course, both Medlen's future in Atlanta and his pitching future in general could be in question as it appears likely the right-hander will soon undergo his second Tommy John surgery.


Second Tommy John Surgery Likely For Kris Medlen

WEDNESDAY: Medlen told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman (Twitter link), that he has spent the past two days preparing himself for a second Tommy John surgery. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says there is a "high likelihood" that Medlen will need Tommy John. O'Brien relays that Medlen was "angry and in denial" after injuring his arm on Sunday; he threw two more pitches before exiting the game (Twitter links).

TUESDAY: Braves right-hander Kris Medlen received his MRI results Tuesday and consulted with team doctors before GM Frank Wren addressed the media. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was on-hand as Wren revealed to the public that the MRI showed "some involvement in the ligament." However, MRIs on patients that have already undergone Tommy John surgery are difficult to read, and Medlen will therefore undergo further tests and meet with Dr. James Andrews to get another opinion before determining if surgery is required.

While Wren wouldn't comment on specific names, he admitted that the team is exploring the starting pitching market for additional help. O'Brien reports that the Braves have definitely reached out to Ervin Santana as one possibility. Wren called the Braves' mounting pitching injuries "worrisome," though the team believes Brandon Beachy's biceps tightness to be routine for players who have undergone elbow surgeries in the past (per O'Brien's Twitter).

Santana threw a two-inning simulated game yesterday and may wait a day or two before signing, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported last night. In that report, he added that financial concern is the main deterrent for the Braves, whose primary competition is the Orioles and Blue Jays. Baltimore has offered a one-year, $13MM deal plus incentives, while Toronto is offering one year and $14MM without incentives. The Twins have offered a three-year deal reported to be in the $30-33MM range, but Santana's preference is a one-year deal, as he could essentially guarantee himself roughly that amount over two years by signing for roughly $14MM for this season and getting a qualifying offer next offseason.

The potential loss of Medlen would be a devastating blow for a Braves rotation that already lost Tim Hudson to free agency and could be without Mike Minor for the early portion of April. Atlanta was projected to have a rotation of Medlen, Minor, Beachy, Julio Teheran and Alex Wood to open the season, with Gavin Floyd eventually slotting in once recovered from Tommy John surgery. Now, they may have to turn to Freddy Garcia, David Hale and other internal candidates, which would be less than ideal for a team expecting to contend in 2014.


NL Notes: Medlen, Cubs, Padres, Rockies

The Braves suffered a scare this afternoon when Kris Medlen, likely the team's Opening Day starter, left his start against the Mets (video link) with what is being diagnosed as a forearm strain. He will be evaluated further tomorrow morning. Manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters, including David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (video link), he's hopeful. "Keep our fingers crossed. But I feel a lot better after talking to our medical people. We might be OK." Medlen, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, has been dominant for the Braves. O'Brien notes the right-hander's ERA since the 2012 All-Star break is second only to Clayton Kershaw among pitchers with at least 250 innings pitched in that period and he's won three of the past eight NL Pitcher of the Month awards while no other pitcher in baseball has won more than one over the same span. O'Brien opines losing Medlen for any significant amount of time could be a blow to the Braves' chances of defending their division title, unless they make a move to acquire another proven top-of-the-rotation type of starter mentioning Ervin Santana. If Medlen is sidelined, the Braves could stay in-house and insert both veteran Freddy Garcia and left-hander Alex Wood into the rotation with Gavin Floyd, who has received good reports on his rehab from his own Tommy John surgery, expected to be ready in May.

Elsewhere in the National League on the first day of Daylight Savings Time (except in Arizona):

  • New Cubs manager Rick Renteria does not see competing in the NL Central "as a daunting task" despite being the only division to send three teams to the playoffs and his own club coming off four consecutive losing seasons, writes the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer. Renteria also sees similarities between the NL Central and the much-praised AL East. "So my thing is, quite frankly, we have a body of players that we’re trying to help form into a team, and that if we can do certain things and take certain actions that we have just as good a chance of competing in our division as some of those teams in the [AL] East have done in the past."
  • Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Times examines the players on the bubble of making the Padres' 25-man roster, including recent waiver claim Alex Castellanos.
  • The Rockies have renewed the contracts of all their pre-arbitration eligible players, according to the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck (via Sulia). Last month, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported agents were unhappy with the Rockies' salary formula for these pre-arb players, which spawned a feature article by Zach Links detailing how teams determine salaries for such players.

Braves Avoid Arb With Kris Medlen, Chris Johnson

The Braves and Kris Medlen have successfully avoided arbitration, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Medlen gets $5.8MM, according to O'Brien (on Twitter). O'Brien also reports that the Braves have avoided arb with third baseman Chris Johnson by agreeing to a $4.75MM contract (Twitter link).

The 28-year-old Medlen had a breakout year in 2011 and a solid, 3.11 ERA campaign last year in his first full season as a starter. He was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.9MM, and came quite close to matching that mark. Medlen will go through arbitration one more time before qualifying for free agency.

Johnson, 29, was one of the biggest surprises in baseball last year after coming to Atlanta in the Justin Upton trade. He posted a .321/.358/.457 mark in 547 plate appearances, earning a projection of a $4.2MM payday from Swartz. Johnson qualified as a Super Two last year, boosting his numbers this year. He will not be eligible for free agency until 2017.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

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).

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Quick Hits: Zack Greinke, Rick Porcello, Kyle Gibson

Here's the latest from around the league as Thanksgiving Weekend comes to a close…

  • Zack Greinke's camp predicts the talented veteran will not only become the richest right-hander in history, but may also surpass Cole Hamels' $153MM contract, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com. 
  • While Rick Porcello's future with the Tigers remains uncertain, there's no denying that the 24-year-old may be a top player to watch for a breakout season in 2013, says FanGraphs' Dave Cameron (ESPN Insider required). 
  • The Twins will utilize the remainder of the offseason to figure out how the team will use right-hander Kyle Gibson as he returns from Tommy John surgery, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Minnesota plans to look at how the Braves cautiously handled Kris Medlen's return from Tommy John surgery last season.

Extension Candidate: Kris Medlen

It speaks to Kris Medlen's dominance over the last two months that his quality start last night against the Marlins (three runs on five hits over seven innings, eight strikeouts and no walks) was his worst outing of the season.  Medlen's season ERA rose all the way to 1.64 but the Braves' 4-3 victory means that the club has now won 22 consecutive games that Medlen has started, tying the right-hander with Hall-of-Famers Carl Hubbell and Whitey Ford for the longest such streak in the modern era of baseball. 

It's pretty heady company for a guy who didn't even return to the Atlanta rotation until July.  Medlen underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2010, returned to pitch just 2 1/3 innings in September 2011 and began this season in the bullpen as the Braves both wanted to keep his arm healthy and felt they were already set for starting pitchers.  After some of those starters faltered, however, Medlen rejoined the rotation in July and has posted video game numbers since: a 1.04 ERA, 80 strikeouts and almost a 9.00 K/BB rate in 77 2/3 innings over 11 starts.Uspw_6609726

Unless Medlen is a modern-day Sandy Koufax, it's safe to assume that he won't quite keep up this particular level of greatness, though the righty certainly appears to have turned a corner in his pro career.  This hot streak comes at an opportune time for Medlen; not only did it come during a postseason stretch, but Medlen is also due to be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.  He'll certainly get a nice raise over his $490K salary in 2012 and it's possible the Braves could be so impressed by Medlen's performance that they'll look to get some cost-certainty on their surprise ace for the next few years.

Medlen's case is "tricky" according to Matt Swartz, who calculates arbitration projections for MLB Trade Rumors and believes Medlen will probably be treated as a starter for arb purposes. 

"The way I’ve been separating swingmen into starters and relievers, he would actually be projected as a reliever, but those rules were kind of arbitrary and I’m not sure here," Swartz said.  "The reason it matters is that if we call him a starting pitcher he gets $2.4MM, and if we call him a reliever, he gets $1.3MM. He has a lot more wins per games started than he does saves and holds."

You could argue that the Braves have enough set 2013 rotation starters (Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor and Tim Hudson, as his $9MM option is sure to be exercised) and enough other young arms in their farm system that a Medlen extension is unnecessary for the moment, but I tend to disagree.  As this season has shown, the Braves' pitching depth isn't as sturdy as believed, so Medlen's development is a great boon for the club.  Medlen seems to be able to consistently perform at the Major League level, which is something that can't yet be said about their prospects.

Cost-certainty is also of particular interest to a franchise that has kept a mid-level payroll since being bought by Liberty Media in 2007.  The Braves had a $102MM payroll in 2008 but have since ranged between $86-$93MM, with only $15MM in committed salary for 2013.  If they believe Medlen is the real deal, an extension could save the team millions through Medlen's arb years.  Extending him now would cost maybe $10MM over three years ($2MM in 2013, $4MM in both 2014 and 2015) with perhaps a $6MM club option for Medlen's first free agent year.  

The Braves have a lot of business to attend to this winter, since such major names as Hanson, Jason Heyward and Jonny Venters are also arb-eligible for the first time, Martin Prado is only a year away from free agency and the team is expected to at least attempt to re-sign Michael Bourn.  Given Medlen's injury history and the fact that his arb number may be $2.4MM at the most, Atlanta could be in no rush to pursue a multiyear deal quite yet with the right-hander.  

Medlen will get one (very high-profile) further chance to prove himself as he's scheduled to start for Atlanta in the wild card playoff game.  Just the fact that the Braves would give Medlen this start is a sign that they believe he's more than just a pitcher on a hot streak, so they could also be eager to lock him up while his price is still low.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Shirey/US Presswire


Rosenthal On Baker, Medlen, Orioles

Melky Cabrera missed out on a free agent payday of at least $50MM by testing positive for an elevated amount of testosterone, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Baseball is focused on improving ways of detecting testosterone and expanding tests for human growth hormone, Rosenthal reports. Here are some highlights from the remainder of his column…

  • Dusty Baker might not have much leverage in contract talks with the Reds unless a managerial opening or two emerges, Rosenthal writes. Baker, whose contract expires after the season, earns $4-4.5MM per year and Rosenthal argues he deserves a raise. The Astros will be looking for a manager this offseason and jobs could open up in Boston and Anaheim.
  • There’s no talk of the Braves shutting Kris Medlen down, even though he underwent Tommy John surgery at the same time Stephen Strasburg did. The Braves limited Medlen’s innings by starting the season with him in the bullpen.
  • The Orioles are able to add payroll, but they didn’t do so in their recent trade with the Diamondbacks. Arizona sent about $300K to Baltimore to account for the difference in the salaries of Matt Lindstrom and Joe Saunders
  • The Orioles put in a claim on Joe Blanton earlier in August, Rosenthal reports. The Dodgers won the claim on the right-hander, who had nearly $3MM on his contract at the time he was placed on waivers.