With tonight’s non-tender deadline looming, the Braves have discussed a two-year deal with non-tender candidate Kris Medlen, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links). Bowman also notes that a one-year deal with a team option for 2016 could make some degree of sense for both sides.
Medlen is a non-tender candidate through no fault of his own; he recently enjoyed an excellent 2013 campaign, but a torn ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training led to his second career Tommy John surgery. We’ve projected Medlen to earn the same $5.8MM in 2015 that he did in 2014, though it’s possible he could have his salary cut by as much as 20 percent (the maximum allowed), meaning he’d cost at least $4.65MM next year. For a player who may not be ready for Opening Day (his Tommy John surgery came on March 18 of last year) and could potentially miss months of the 2015 campaign, that’s a somewhat risky notion.
By signing a two-year deal, the Braves could back-load the contract and remove some of the risk from Medlen’s recovery season — a season that historically isn’t as sharp for a pitcher as the subsequent seasons. Medlen, meanwhile, could guarantee himself more money than the $4.65MM to $5.8MM he stands to earn in 2015. An increased guarantee would hardly be insignificant for the 29-year-old Medlen, who has banked about $9.7MM in his career to this point.
When healthy, Medlen has been nothing short of excellent in his career. The former 10th-round pick has a lifetime 2.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 46.2 percent ground-ball rate in 512 2/3 innings at the Major League level. Based on that success, it’s not surprising to see the Braves trying to get a bit creative to keep Medlen in the fold.