Braves Will Go To Arbitration Hearings With Kimbrel, Freeman, Heyward
Braves GM Frank Wren says that his club will take its arbitration case to a hearing with the club’s three remaining arbitration-filing players, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). Wren says that the club will not have any further negotiations with closer Craig Kimbrel, first baseman Freddie Freeman, and outfielder Jason Heyward.
The Braves are a noted “file and trial” club, and Wren’s statements indicate that the club intends to stand by its position. “We have an organization philosophy of the filing date is our last date to negotiate prior to a hearing,” said Wren. “We’re done.” None of the other “file and trial” clubs — the Blue Jays, Marlins, Pirates, Rays, Reds, and White Sox — has any players yet to reach agreement. (The Pirates and Reds are new additions to the list, per tweets from MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.) For the first time ever, no players went to an arbitration hearing last year, but that apparently will not be the case for 2014.
As O’Brien explains, the Braves have not had a hearing since John Rocker back in 2001. The club avoided arbitration in 2009 with Jeff Francoeur just before a hearing, but has adopted its strict negotiating policy since that time.
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves far apart in arbitration
It’s a tricky question this off-season.
How much are Major League teams willing to pay for closers?
The Atlanta Braves have the best in all of baseball in Craig Kimbrel, but when the two sides filed arbitration figures Friday night, it showed a significant disconnect in terms of what they think he should be paid to be the best:
Per Mark Bowman of MLB.com:
The #Braves have offered Kimbrel $6.55M and he has requested $9M. Midpoint of $7.75M.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) January 17, 2014
Earlier this off-season, some wondered if the Braves ought to explore trading Kimbrel for this very reason. I think most people figured that he would get expensive in arbitration, but $9 million is a ton to pay for a reliever, even if Kimbrel has been dynamite in his young career.
Why Andrelton Simmons Will Be MLB’s Best Shortstop in 2014
ere are a few standout shortstops in baseball. Then there is the inarguable standout shortstop on defense, Andrelton Simmons.
After winning the Defensive Player of the Year and the Rawlings Platinum Glove in 2013, there seems to be little question that Simmons has proven himself to be better than the rest on defense. Here’s a deeper look as to why the Atlanta Brave was chosen and why he won’t fall off the top this year.
According to FanGraphs.com, Simmons had a 24.6 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) last season, a number that basically attempts to quantify how good a player is defensively by calculating how many runs they saved or gave up while they were on the field.
To put into perspective how impressive his number is, Troy Tulowitzki of theColorado Rockies posted a 6.6 UZR. Tulowitzki is considered to be among the best shortstops in baseball right now. If that doesn’t do it for you, FanGraphs described +15 UZR to be Gold Glove-caliber. 24.6 is off the charts.
Simmons and Gerardo Parra tied this season with 41 defensive runs saved. That’s a new MLB record.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman described Simmons to Jayson Stark ofESPN.com, “He’s incredible. The balls he gets to. He’s so quick. [When he throws to first], it’s like the ball doesn’t even go in his glove,” he said.
Chipper Jones bids Atlanta farewell
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
After a year of golfing, hanging with his sons, and watching a lot of baseball, Chipper Jones is ready to roll his sleeves up again — as a rancher.
The former Braves third baseman, who has made Atlanta his home for the past 22 years, is preparing to move to his ranch in southwest Texas and take over the commercial hunting operation that has been run by his parents, Larry and Lynne Jones.
With a goal of making sure the ranch can pay for itself, Jones will host hunts, immersing himself in a passion that’s been a close second to baseball throughout his life.
“I always had in the back of my mind, even throughout my playing days, that I would retire out there one day,” Jones said. “It is without a doubt my favorite place on the planet.”