Kimbrel: looking for a big arbitration strike. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Should be a Busy Week for the Braves

Today is the 13th of January.  Tomorrow is the deadline for arbitration hearing filing.  That’s important for two reasons:

  • The team policy of the Atlanta Braves is that they are a “File and Trial” company.  That is, once a player officially files for arbitration, then negotiations on their next contract amount cease, and the two parties then will present their cases at ‘trial’ (the Arbitration hearing).  [Update: technically not until the salary figures are exchanged - deadline for that is Friday]
  • There are still seven players that the Braves have yet to come to an agreement with:  Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen, Freddie Freeman, Jayson Heyward, Chris Johnson, Mike Minor, and Jordan Schafer.  With the exception of Schafer, these are the players with the highest estimated ‘values’ of the 11  Arbitration eligibles for this year.

The Braves haven’t actually had to go through an arbitration hearing in a while.  The last one was going to be Jeff Francoeur‘s back in 2009. But contrary to the ‘policy’, the two sides actually came to an agreement just before Jeff got on plane to fly to that hearing.  So there is a precedent for continued negotiations… and given some of the numbers that are at stake, it would probably be worth Frank Wren’s while to keep that door ajar just a bit. However, in early 2013, the Braves were seemingly prepared to go to a hearing with Martin Prado over a matter of “just” a $40,000 separation.  But then we all know how that one ended.

Nonetheless, we can expect quite a bit of news on these guys today and tomorrow.

Here are the MLB Trade Rumors’ estimates for each of the players involved:

  • Kimbrel* – $7.25 million (1st arbitration year)
  • Medlen: $5.9 million (2nd year)
  • Freeman:  $4.9 million (1st year)
  • Heyward: $4.5 million (2nd year
  • Johnson: $4.2 million (2nd year; Super-2 [gets 4 arb years])
  • Minor:  $3.5 million (1st year of 4; Super-2)
  • Schafer: $1.0 million (1st year)

* In the case of Craig Kimbrel, his is the exceptionnever has a closer gotten to this, his 1st arbitration year, with stats like his.  MLBTR says that he “broke” their estimations model.  That will make it difficult for anyone to determine exactly what he will earn:  agents, the team, or the arbitrator.  This one could swing over $1 million in either direction… and in turn impact the Braves’ decision on keeping him beyond another year (having $11-12 million closers aren’t exactly this team’s style).

Jordan Schafer could make that case that he’s the best 4th outfielder out there – and therefore worth more than $1 million.  Indeed, if B.J. continues to slump into 2014, Schafer could be called upon a lot more often.  But that’s about the future – not the present, and it’s past performance that sets the bar for these numbers above.

The Braves have already settled with 4 of their arbitration guys:

The arbitration clocks don’t start until 2016 for Andrelton Simmons, Luis Avilan, Anthony Varvaro, Julio Teheran, and Evan Gattis.


So About Those Contract Extensions…

It was opined by David O’Brien over the weekend, and repeated here, that fans might never see Jason Heyward take an extension now that he is now two seasons from free agency.  It was reported around this time last year (I cannot locate my source on this) that Wren had tried – and was declined at that time – to extend the contracts of both Heyward and Freeman.  If there’s any point in the off-season in which such deals are “in season”, it is this week.

But will it happen?  Difficult to say.  Certainly, Atlanta has a lot of candidates – but with salaries exploding (again) this year, it’s truly difficult for players to see that and then ‘settle’ for something that appears to be less in the long term.  Simmons would be a good candidate, given that he’s still way early in the process.  I have no delusions that the Braves will be able to extend everybody – more likely 3 or 4 at best from this current group.  But that’s up to the temperament of each individual involved.

Don’t forget, though:  not all contract extensions are good ones.  The Braves made a stout offer to the aforementioned Jeff Francoeur – who declined the invitation.  Guess that one worked out okay for Atlanta.


For players filing for arbitration tomorrow, salary figures are exchanged on Friday.  Hearings are then scheduled between February 1st and 21st.

Oh, and after Tuesday’s deadline?  Team President John Schuerholz told XM/MLB Radio last week that Frank “isn’t done” tweaking the roster.  We’ll see how that teaser plays out.


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Tags: Arbitration Atlanta Braves

  • Chris Headrick

    Last time they entered a hearing was 2001 with John Rocker wasn’t it? They got close with Martin Prado, but stuck to their policy guns on that. I have often disagreed with their “file and trial” policy, particularly when they might lose a great player, and are unwilling to budge even a touch on $$ to keep him, but on the other hand, it’s generally been a good policy for the Braves. I believe there are only a few other teams that employ this policy, which begs the questions as to whether the Braves’ should.

    • carpengui

      File-n-trial teams are: Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox… with the Brewers, Nats, Indians and Pirates generally doing that, but selectively so.

      Of course at this point, they can’t ‘lose’ the player… but generally cooler heads have prevailed to keep them out of the hassle of the arbitration hearing. In this case though, I have concerns both given the bucks and volume of players involved.

  • fireboss

    Barring injury Simba is a super two next year. They have to push – including an over pay – to sign Freddie now. Guess who needs a first baseman in 2017. . .the Yankees. Heyward isn’t going to extend. CJ will extend for a reasonable offer. He’s just happy to be there and he’s 29. By the time he’s out of arb he’s past big contract time which is also an argument for going year to year with him to be sure this wasn’t a Bill Mueller peak kind of year. Medlen is a good extension candidate IF he doesn’t have his nose out of joint about all that bullpen starter kerfuffle last year. Not convinced about anyone else is viable at this time. It’s quite possible that if the Braves low ball Kimbrel (say $5M) and he wins, they’ll trade him and try to get two or three players for him or perhaps a Samardzija. Not advocating that just saying they dumped Prado over 40K

    • carpengui

      Of the pitchers, I would think strongly about Beachy… through perhaps 2018… since he’s now post-TJ. Minor would be next on my list. I’m just not sure about Medlen, but if the price is right, then maybe.

      CJ2.0: Yeah, age is the thing. He’ll be 32 at the point his ‘team control’ ends… and that might be the time to part ways, as his defense certainly won’t get better. His bat may be peaking over this next 3 seasons that the Braves have him.

      Still gotta say that if there’s a guy worth a 10-year deal, it’s Simmons.

      Darn good point about Freddie.

      • fireboss

        I want to see Beachy do his thing again for at least another full season before I commit to a contract extension. I’m of the belief that Minor wants big $$$ and isn’t overly happy with Braves leadership. I’d extend him if I could I just don’t know if he would

    • Joseph Fain

      Don’t know that it is really fair to say that the Braves dumped Prado over $40K (I am sure that there was some tongue in your cheek). There was the small consideration of one Juston Upton also.

  • Mushy Peas

    All these dealings makes it quite a gamble for your average fan investing in a team jersey with their favorite player’s name and number sewn on the back because, nowadays, it’s likely that chosen player won’t be hanging around long. I think we are entering an era where there are no more “franchise players”. Chipper may very well have been the last the Braves will ever see. I personally think it’s sad. I, like many others I’m sure, have a tendency to become emotionally attached to certain players; however, I can certainly respect the business side of these dealings. Still, it is a bitter pill to swallow.

    • fireboss

      One team players have been a rare thing for years. It’s true that Chipper stayed but aside from him and Jeter free agency essentially ended one team players. Oddly the recent trend is toward signing young players while they are young to try and keep them in the system for at least 10 years. The salary explosion is making it hard for teams like the Braves to do that. Enjoy them while you can

  • Joseph Fain

    I think the Braves should definitely trade Kimbrel. They simply cannot afford a closer that makes that much and given the streakyness of relievers it would seem to be wise to sell high.