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The Braves' season ended in a game that will be remembered for a controversial call last week, as did the likely Hall of Fame career of Chipper Jones. With a feeling that he could only describe as "emptiness," general manager Frank Wren talked with David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the playoffs, his team's upcoming offseason and several of the decisions they'll have to make…
- Wren suggested that he's not a fan of the Wild Card format and that he'd like to see the system amended to give the Wild Card teams a three-game series, beginning with a day-night double-header.
- He also said that it's worth revisiting the trade deadline, which Wren feels is "pretty early for the current system." August 15 would be a more logical date for teams to determine whether or not they want to push for the Wild Card, in Wren's estimation.
- Wren says he's looking forward to a "focused" offseason. The front office recognizes that they have to replace Jones at third base, and they hope to retain Michael Bourn, whose contract expired at season's end. The team would like to address center field and the leadoff position in the same move — a role which Bourn can obviously fill. The Braves contacted Bourn's representatives about an extension in Spring Training but were told to wait until after the season to engage in negotiations.
- Atlanta would love to have David Ross back in the fold in 2013. Wren spoke very highly of his backup catcher to O'Brien.
- The Braves chose not to have Brian McCann undergo an MRI with a dye injection during the season because the recovery is too long. McCann will undergo that test in the near future, which could reveal a need for surgery, but for the time being the Braves believe their catcher needs only rest to recover.
- Jason Heyward could handle center field "for a few days," but Wren and his associates don't view him as a long-term answer in center. Wren said he considers Heyward among the best defensive right fielders in the game and wouldn't want to diminish his defensive value by moving him.
- The Braves have options on McCann ($12MM), Tim Hudson ($8MM) and Paul Maholm ($6.5MM), and they'll address those decisions in the coming weeks.
- It would take a "very, very big piece" to trade Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran this winter. The trade market does figure to be in play for the Braves though, as Wren said he won't be "going outrageous salary-wise" on free agents. The team will be "looking for premium players," but Wren cautions they're not looking to add a player to the team as much as they are looking to add value. If they feel that adding two players can give them more than one premium name, they'll pursue that route instead.
- Jair Jurrjens' situation is different from Tommy Hanson's, in Wren's mind. Wren spoke more definitely of Hanson's future with the team than that of Jurrjens. The Braves "will have a determination" on Jurrjens' future this winter. Jurrjens earned $5.5MM in 2012 and is a non-tender candidate for 2013 in the mind of MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
- Wren confirmed that the entire coaching staff will be offered the opportunity to return to the team.
Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.
Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal.
Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.
With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:
- Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com he wants to improve the Orioles' "on-base capability from top to bottom." Duquette isn't sure he currently has a .380 OBP guy, and isn't sure if his second baseman is currently on the roster. The free agents with the best 2011 OBPs include Casey Kotchman, Chris Snyder, Carlos Pena, and Pat Burrell.
- The Orioles haven't made contract with Luke Scott since non-tendering him on December 12th, reports Kubatko.
- The Orioles are fairly confident they will add another outfielder, though that wouldn't necessarily portend an Adam Jones trade, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles were not overly intrigued by the Braves' offer of Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, and a minor league pitcher. Connolly doesn't see Jurrjens as a centerpiece for a Jones trade. Instead, the Orioles are intrigued by Tommy Hanson.
- Connolly notes that an extension remains possible for Jones, who is under team control for two more years. January is always a big month for extensions.
- An Orioles source told Connolly they would not offer Prince Fielder the seven-year, $140MM deal Mark Teixeira rejected three years ago. For the Orioles to sign Fielder, Connolly feels that his market would have to completely collapse, and he finds that highly unlikely. Connolly reiterates that agent Scott Boras and Fielder "did not meet with [Orioles owner] Peter Angelos despite being in the area – which I thought should demonstrate once and for all that the Orioles really aren’t anywhere near the frontburner of this issue and Fielder's side isn't forcing it."
The Braves blew a late-inning lead before losing a painful game to the Phillies tonight, but if Atlanta goes on to win in the playoffs this year, their bullpen will probably be a major reason for their success. The Braves’ late inning trio of Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel is as good as it gets.
Health permitting, the three relievers figure to return to Atlanta in 2012, but the same can’t necessarily be said for the Braves’ starting corps. Every one of the eight pitchers who has started a game for the Braves in 2011 is under team control next year and with a trio of MLB-ready arms entering the discussion for big league rotation spots, it won’t be surprising if the Braves hear an offer or two for their surplus arms.
Before we get too carried away with assumptions about health, it’s important to note that two Braves starters are on the disabled list and another one is dealing with an injury. Kris Medlen hasn’t pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery last August and won’t be ready before 2012. Tommy Hanson is also on the disabled list (shoulder) and Jair Jurrjens (knee) is banged up as well.
Despite those injuries, the Braves have a full rotation: Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Brandon Beachy (pictured), Mike Minor and Randall Delgado. Top prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran (who will start one of tomorrow’s games) also represent viable rotation options for manager Fredi Gonzalez.
All told, the Braves have nine options. Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy and Minor have all had extended looks in the rotation this year, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino spent most of the 2011 season in the minors and Medlen, a wild card heading into 2012, hasn’t pitched at all.
Not only do the Braves have nine pitchers around in 2012, most of them are under team control in 2013 (Lowe’s contract expires after next season and the Braves have a $9MM club option for Hudson in ’13). This group isn’t going anywhere.
As unusual as it is for a team to have too much pitching, this Braves team may find themselves with extra arms over the winter. Unlike most teams, however, the Braves already have the main components of their roster in place for 2012. They won’t have many obvious holes to address over the winter.
Yet the Braves aren’t set at every position – shortstop Alex Gonzalez hits free agency and Martin Prado hasn't shown the on-base skills or power you'd expect from a left fielder. If the Braves decide not to retain the slick-fielding Gonzalez and opt to move Prado back into a utility role, they could have holes at shortstop and left field (assuming they don’t view Jose Constanza as a permanent solution).
The Braves are a playoff-caliber team and they seem poised to contend in 2012, but significant needs could emerge within a month or two. Wren avoided last year's free agent frenzy and if he hopes to do the same this offseason without ignoring possible weaknesses, he could make the organization's pitching depth available in trades.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
The Dodgers signed Garret Anderson exactly one year ago today. Earlier this week, Anderson retired as the all-time leader in a number of offensive categories for L.A.'s other team. Here are today's links…
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti explained to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Tribe likes Matt Lawson's versatility and defense. They acquired the Double-A utility player for Aaron Laffey in a trade with the Mariners yesterday.
- One of Lawson's former minor league teammates, Nick Franklin, has switched agents and is now a client of the Boras Corporation, according to Conor Glassey of Baseball America (on Twitter).
- Another Scott Boras client, Tommy Hanson, had his contract renewed by the Braves, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (on Twitter). When teams renew players' contracts, it means the sides did not agree to terms.
- Jerry Crasnick catches up with former can't-miss prospects Jeremy Hermida, Lastings Milledge and Jeff Francoeur in an enjoyable piece at ESPN.com.
Links for Wednesday, as the Tigers get some infield depth from a division rival…
- The Rangers haven't ruled out acquiring Mike Lowell, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- Agent Bean Stringfellow told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Blue Jays are not currently discussing an extension with Jose Bautista. It’s not at all surprising given how much else the Blue Jays have to sort out this week. Bautista said on the FAN 590 today that he would listen if the Blue Jays approached him with a multi-year deal after the season.
- The Cardinals are not interested in Clint Barmes, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
- Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier that the Red Sox will “look aggressively” for ways to improve at the trade deadline.
- Tommy Hanson explained to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he chose the Boras Corp. because of the support the agency offers.
- Brett Myers is untouchable, a source tells Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). With respect to Justice and his source, it seems unfathomable that a 41-59 team wouldn't listen to offers on a player who can walk at the end of the season.
- Casey Fien cleared waivers and the Tigers outrighted him to Triple A, according to the team (via Twitter). Detroit designated Fien for assignment last weekend.
- Like Fien, Scott Moore cleared waivers and headed to Triple A, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The O's designated Moore for assignment last week.
- And another recent DFA, Justin Miller, was outrighted to Triple A Albuquerque, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (via Twitter).
- The Blue Jays have considered Kelly Johnson, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Aaron Hill recently told the Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair that he would play third if the Jays asked him to, so Johnson could theoretically play second in Toronto. Seems like a longshot to me.
- Kyle Farnsworth is available to manager Ned Yost (and GMs around the league) after leaving yesterday's game with a hamstring cramp, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- Trevor Hoffman can veto deals to 25 MLB teams, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. The all-time saves leader and his $7.5MM salary would likely clear waivers, so interested teams will probably be able to pursue him in August.
- One player told Morosi that he'd be "shocked" if the Brewers trade Prince Fielder this week.
- Mike Axisa counts down the Yankees' top five trade chips at River Ave. Blues.
- The Dodgers won't discuss prospect Dee Gordon with other teams, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Brett Myers | Casey Fien | Clint Barmes | Detroit Tigers | Houston Astros | Jose Bautista | Justin Miller | Kansas City Royals | Kelly Johnson | Kyle Farnsworth | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mike Lowell | Milwaukee Brewers | Philadelphia Phillies | Scott Moore | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Tommy Hanson | Toronto Blue Jays | Trevor Hoffman
Braves righty Tommy Hanson hired Scott Boras as his agent this month, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hanson had previously been with Beverly Hills Sports Council, an agency that was fractured when Dan Lozano left and took several big-name clients with him. O'Brien notes that Boras now represents three members of the Braves' rotation, with Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe already in tow. Click here to see our full list of Boras clients.
For those worried that Hanson is now less likely to sign a multiyear deal, keep in mind that that isn't really the Braves' cup of tea anyway. Hanson will have one year and 120 days of service time after this season, so he won't be arbitration-eligible yet. There is a possibility Hanson is arbitration-eligible after the 2011 season, if the Super Two rule remains unchanged by the new collective bargaining agreement and the cutoff keeps decreasing. It's much too early to worry about any of that; Braves fans can rest easy knowing the team controls Hanson through 2015.
A wrap-up of some items on this busy Tuesday evening…
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times looks at some of the free agents left on the market and wonders if the Mariners will be enticed to make one more move this winter. Neither Stone nor MLB.com's Jim Street think an Erik Bedard return is likely.
- Chris Haft of MLB.com covers a number of Giants-related topics in a mailbag, including how outfielder Fred Lewis "appears to have fallen out of favor with the organization" and "probably needs a change of scenery."
- Tim Wakefield tells CSNNE.com's Art Martone that he intends "on being one of the five starters" in the Boston rotation next season.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman reports that the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan-led ownership group paid a cool $570MM for the Rangers.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was told by Brewers GM Doug Melvin that he is "working on one other thing….It would be a minor-league deal." Haudricourt speculates that Milwaukee is looking for a left-handed reserve outfielder and former Brewer Gabe Gross could be an option.
- The Dodgers are another team looking for a lefty backup outfielder, tweets MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman says that a recent Chipper Jones comment about Atlanta possibly bringing back Javier Vazquez after 2010 is "wishful thinking" on the part of the Braves superstar. Bowman discusses a few other topics in the mailbag piece, including the wisdom of the Braves buying out the arbitration years of Jair Jurrjens and/or Tommy Hanson.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter) says that Robb Quinlan was a reserve option for the Twins if they hadn't signed Jim Thome. The right-handed Quinlan might have fit into the Minnesota bench a bit better than Thome, but if you had to pick between the two, I think most people would give Thome the nod.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Boston Red Sox | Chipper Jones | Fred Lewis | Gabe Gross | Jair Jurrjens | Javier Vazquez | Jim Thome | Los Angeles Dodgers | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Robb Quinlan | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Tim Wakefield | Tommy Hanson
Mark Bowman of MLB.com has an excellent rundown of the Braves' payroll going into 2010. He focuses on Tim Hudson, who had scouts from the Rockies and the Diamondbacks watching him make his return to the mound last night.
It would seem that the Braves have some decisions to make about their starting rotation going into next season. They currently have Hudson, Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson.
According to Bowman, the Braves have a few different options. They could pay Hudson's $1MM buyout and let him go. They could attempt to trade Vazquez for prospects. They could even trade Kawakami for financial relief, though the return for him would be less than what Vazquez would bring.
Bowman argues that if both Hudson and Vazquez stay with the Braves, Atlanta's rotation "would be deeper than any of the great ones it possessed during the 1990's." Do you agree? How should the Braves proceed?
A report coming from the Associated Press says that Tom Glavine may file a grievance against the Atlanta Braves for releasing him on Wednesday.
There are a number of factors here, of course. The combination of money saved by releasing Glavine matches up well with the salary owed newly-acquired Nate McLouth.
Also, the Braves wanted room for Tommy Hanson, their top pitching prospect, in the rotation.
But left unsaid is what effect this may have on Glavine's ability to sign with another team. To the extent that baseball protects its own, will owners want to give Glavine a job?