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)
- First time: Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson, Jonny Venters, Cristhian Martinez, Kris Medlen
- Third time: Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, Eric O'Flaherty
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.