Braves Free Agents, Super 2s & Chone Figgins

 

Today is the day players not under contract for next year could officially file for Free agency and to no one’s surprise Alex Gonzalez, Scott Linebrink, Nate McLouth, George Sherrill and Jack Wilson did just that. Aside for Jack Wilson who I liked because of the way he plays the game the rest will not be missed by me. Others are making predictions that the Braves will welcome at least a couple of these homeless players.

Ken Davidoff at Newsday writes the Braves will plunk down $7 million for another year of Gonzalez. He opines that Sea Bass is “still a defensive asset’ but says he “isn’t much of a bat.”  With all due respect to the illustrious and well respected Mr. Davidoff, are you out of your mind? Why should Gonzalez get a raise at all much less a nearly $4.4 million one. With Gonzalez as shortstop the Braves ranked 13th of the 16 NL teams for offensive production there. He didn’t just have a bad year, he was atrocious. Of 23 major league shortstops playing in 100 or more games he was

  • 15th in Slg%
  • 18th in OPS
  • 22nd for BA and OBP

Gonzalez will be 35 in February and we know now suffered from a bad back; he’s not going to get better folks, that ship has sailed. Is he worth a nearly $5 million  salary bump? I don’t think so. We should institute a catch and release program for all Sea Bass. If he stays he should get no more than $2million for one year half of that incentives such as hitting above .260 with an OBP over .300. Fans remember his glove and forget how bad he really was – how many game saving rallies he killed – with his bat.

In the same article Davidoff says Josh Willingham will finally after years of rumors land in Atlanta on a two year $16 million dollar deal. The money is about right for Willingham’s production but do the Braves want to give up a draft pick for him? I wouldn’t I think there are trade options out there. I wrote about Carlos Quentin a while back but there are others.

Braves Super 2s

No Braves made the latest list of Super 2s according to MLB Trade Rumors  Ruben Gotay Jr. was originally on the list but did not have enough time with the big club to qualify. This year’s cutoff was two years and 146 days of Major League service.

To be a Super 2 under the soon to be replaced CBA  a player must be one of the top 17% of players who have between two and three years service time and at least 86 days service time the previous year. Super 2 status allows a player to go to arbitration a year sooner thus collecting at least one bigger pay check than his peers who didn’t qualify.

The Braves have five arbitration candidates this year are

MLBTR estimates that together they’ll receive $19.1 million – Jurrjens $5.1 million, Prado $4.4 million, O’Flaherty  $2.4 million  and Bourn the biggest jump to $7.2 million up $3 million from last year. Moylan’s injury probably limits any raise and he might well be nontendered in the hope that we could sign him for $2 million or so again.

The Braves had two candidates that just missed qualifying Kris Medlen – 2 years 137 days and Tommy Hanson – 2 years 120. Hanson’s miss saved the Braves the most money as his arbitration bump would have earned him a salary similar to the $3.5 million Jurrjens made this year.

Based on Frank Wren’s interviews and quotes seen in the press the Braves will try to stay near the $91 + million that had this year. Estimates put total salary – commitments + estimated arbitration + minimum salary or close to it players – at between $86-88 million including the McLouth buy out. Adding the $13 million Davidoff predicts would put us over $100 million. The need to erase the bitter taste of last season’s failure might push Wren to do that. I hope he spends wisely, we don’t need another albatross like the Derek Lowe contract hanging around.

Speaking of Lowe, I’ve suggested to a couple of folks who looked at me like my hair was on fire that a Lowe for Chone Figgins trade would work. . . . I’ll wait for you to quit screaming. . . Okay here’s why in bullet format.

  • We do not need Lowe
  • Seattle isn’t going to win and needs innings, Lowe does that
  • The GM says we need a utility player, Figgins plays  infield and outfield well
  • Figgins can’t be as bad as he’s played in Seattle (more on  that below)
  • The contracts are almost a wash- Figgins gets $9 million this year and $8 million in 2013. Lowe gets $15 million this year.

Now for some details.

Figgins 2014 salary option of $9 million vests with 600 PA in 2013, that won’t happen unless he’s back to his Angels form in which case he’s worth it.  So we’re risking $2 million and moving a bad memory.

Prior to the awful Seattle decision Figgins was a sought after player. For his career as an Angel he finished with a slash line of .291/.363/.388. In 2009 – his walk year I know but still – he had 101 walks, scored 114 runs had a slash of .298/.395/.393 and a rWAR of 6.9. He approached that slash line three other times in his years in Anaheim and averaged an rWAR of 2.8. I’ve seen players fall off the planet production wise before but I don’t recall one that rapidly declining at age 31. I blame part of it on the contract size and the rest on the disjointed dysfunctional swamp that was the Seattle Mariners in 2009-10-11.

Seattle hasn’t been a settled place since Lou Piniella left. They won 93 games the following year and since then have really been cellar dwellers. In 2007 a managerial merry-go-round began. Mike Hargrove  resigned midyear (45-33) and was replaced by John McLaren (43-41) and (25-47) who lasted a year and was replaced by Jim Riggleman (36-54). At the end of the year Riggleman left and Don Wakamatsu was hired. Wakamatsu  (85-77) and (42-70) lasted a year and a half before Daren Brown (19-31) replaced him. Last year Eric Wedge (67-95)  took over.

The 2009 season was bad. They brought back Ken Griffey Jr but by midyear the clubhouse was out of control, inside information was leaked to the newspapers and Griffey retired in disgust. Rumors ruled and no one trusted anyone. How well do you think you’d play in that atmosphere? Aside from Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez led the team in hitting followed by Jose Lopez and Adrian Beltre. In 2010 Beltee left and Figgins arrived.

Everyone said Figgins had a horrible year in 2010 but aside from perennial 300 hitter Ichiro, Figgins (.259) was the leading hitter followed by Jack Wilson (.249) followed by Gutierrez and Lopez. They won 61 games. This year was worse, even Ichiro didn’t hit 300.  Some ex- Mariners did well however,

Free of Seattle Casey Kotchman regained his mojo and was key to the Rays comeback to win the wildcard. After Beltre’s great season in Boston he was a solidified the left side of the infield  as the Rangers won their 2nd straight AL championship. Who’s to say Figgins won’t regain his mojo as well? In reality $2 million isn’t much in today’s baseball world. If the real Chone Figgins it’s worth  at least that.

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Tags: Chone Figgins Eric O'flaherty Jair Jurrjens Kris Medlen Martin Prado Michael Bourn Peter Moylan Tommy Hanson

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