Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

After Freeman: Wren isn't done yet

During yesterday’s press conference to re-introduce Freddie Freeman to media members that had been ignoring him before this franchise-record contract extension, Frank Wren was asked about how this big contract fits into the context of the club and future expectations:

We’re looking at how we can keep our team together, especially our young, homegrown players, and we have a lot of collaboration from (Braves CEO) Terry McGuirk and (team president) John Schuerholz to make sure this franchise stays strong. And we looked at how we could strategize to make that happen.”

“There is also an element of the new situation in Cobb County that allows us to be more competitive, and I think it’s evident by this signing,” Wren said. “So over the course of the last two months we put a lot of planning into it, and we’re excited that we’re able to keep one of the best young players in the National League a Brave for the next eight years … and hopefully much longer after that.”

There are a lot of business terms used in therelooking, planning, strategize, collaboration.


Well, Frank is staying on that plan.  There’s word this morning that he’s still on the prowl:


Music to the ears of Braves’ fans.  Almost everybody in Braves’ country want to see all-leather Shortstop Andrelton Simmons locked up for … oh, maybe a decade or two.  I won’t belabor that point.  The surprise is actually seeing Julio Teheran‘s name included in this tweet.

Why? Because pitchers are fragile.  Because long-term deals for pitchers are risky.  Because pitchers are inconsistent.  Because the road to the Hall of Fame is littered with pot holes, ditches, broken pavement, and the remains of pitchers through the decades.

The Braves themselves have a ton of these guys that they can point to:  Damien Moss, Kevin McGlinchy, Terrell Wade, John Leroy, Jimmy Osting, Luis Rivera, Brett Evert, Scott Sobkowiak, Matt McClendon, Matt Belisle, Bill Sylvester, Christian Parra, Jung Bong, Bubba Nelson, … I’ve got literally two dozen more names.

> All of these guys were top ten prospects in the Braves system.
> None of them threw more than 60 games in the majors. 

Even more recently, there’s a couple of names that are fresh in our minds:  Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson.  Pitchers are risky.


So why try to extend Julio Teheran?

1.  So far, he’s been injury free.  Over 5 years in the minors and majors, he’s been consistently extending his innings count.  Now on the cusp of a 200 innings year, he’s managed to avoid issues with shoulders, elbows, back, and legs.  That despite attempts to change his delivery to something “safer” in 2012.

2. He’s still very young.  Julio is still nearly the youngest on the entire 40-man roster (just turned 23 ten days ago).  With 2013′s 14-8 record and 3.20 ERA, he’s established himself  – already – as a top-half-of-the-rotation major league pitcher.  The Braves have seen him for a while now and they know what they’re going to get.

3.  Long-term deals in this context are a lot more about managing risk rather than avoiding risk.  Having a pitcher under contract for 5 or 6 years doesn’t mean that you hope he’ll be pitching that entire time.  You structure the contract terms with the assumption that he’ll be available maybe 70-80% of that time.  More is gravy.  Less is still acceptable given that you’ve planned for it.

So even if Julio were to, say, undergo Tommy John surgery in the midst of a long-term deal, then that’s clearly not ideal, but still acceptable:  it’s part of the calculus that goes into the planning that Frank Wren spoke about.


This is exciting news that is coming up here at the end of a relatively slow off-season (though the caveat is that these deals are incumbent on agreement from both sides).  I’ve written at length about how payroll issues could continue to hamper this club as others pony up and the Braves stay stagnant.  Clearly, the upper management of the Atlanta Braves has been working very hard to look for new revenue (the new stadium) and creative means (strategic long-term deals) to secure at least some of their best young talent for as long as possible

Tags: Andrelton Simmons Atlanta Braves Julio Teheran

  • fireboss

    Teheran needs to prove he can be consistent for more than one season. Any pitcher over 5 years is a risk particularly one who is a risk for arm issues. If Simmons would sign a 7 year 56M deal with options I’d do that because it’s unlikely the glove will fade. The odd man out here is Medlen, being under appreciated again even though he’s been the steady arm in our rotation. He’ll be allowed to walk or they’ll trade him they be looking to sign a guy who does what he does. Their shortsightedness is staggering.

    • Lee Trocinski

      As you know, I’m not on board with Teheran yet either. The problem is that another good year really raises his price. Simmons at that contract would mean he’d be around $15M for his first 2 years of FA, which seems low, as everyone sees his value beyond the bat.

      I don’t see Medlen being any better than he was last year over a full season. He has very good command, but he’s not Maddux. He’s not a worm-burner, so he will allow homers.

      Using FG data, I found all RH starters since ’02 with a bunch of criteria.

      - 162 IP
      - 2 WAR
      - <50% GB
      - under 90 MPH fastball velocity
      - under 30 years old
      - right-handed

      Aside from Medlen last year, only 28 names showed up. However, Wainwright, Greinke, and Fister aren't comparable now that they gained velocity or groundballs at a level Medlen likely won't. Jered Weaver was the other good name, but his age-30 year last season could be the beginning of a sharp decline. He also has extreme BABIP and HR/FB suppression skills that Medlen doesn't. It's safe to say Medlen won't be a great pitcher in the future.

      There was a middle-of-the-road group of:

      Joe Blanton
      Kevin Millwood
      Livan Hernandez
      Bronson Arroyo
      Brett Myers
      Jon Garland
      Jeff Weaver
      Shaun Marcum
      Russ Ortiz
      Ian Kennedy
      Ismael Valdez
      Jeff Suppan
      Jhoulys Chacin

      There were also the flameouts:

      Jason Jennings
      Josh Towers
      Chris Young
      Andy Sonnanstine
      Dave Bush
      Tomo Ohka
      Randy Wells
      Jae Seo
      Brian Bannister
      Jesse Litsch
      Jeff D'Amico

      The last 2 lists are much longer, so it's more likely Medlen ends up there. I think he'll be on the good end of the middle list, but is that worth the $13-$15M it would take to sign him after next year?

      • fireboss

        I’m a Medlen fan, not because he’s Maddux but because I think he’s better than the predictive numbers indicate. As far as cost, I suspect that the cost of pitchers like every other position is going up. I think he’s worth more than Nolasco and Haren and probably as much as Hudson so by next year that could be 13M or so. they could have extended him last year at 8M for 5 I suspect. They would have paid more in the short term but it would have been cheaper in the out years. The MO of the Braves has been to put in a guy who can do 200 innings cheap but those guys are getting more expensive and grabbing the infirm and hoping they heal well enough to be depended on isn’t a sound strategy. I see all of those hot prospects but the success rate isn’t high enough for me to pass on 200 innings and 13-15 wins a year

  • Chris Headrick

    I love Simba’s defense. Who wouldn’t? That said, he needs to correct some offensive issues imo before any long-term contract is considered. You cannot make him content to be mediocre offensively, regardless of his defensive value.

    • Lee Trocinski

      The problem with that is if he does get better at the plate, his price goes way up. To keep all the players, you have to stay ahead of the curve. We could likely keep Simmons at a reasonable price right now, unless Simmons is waiting for that offensive breakout to cash in.

      • Chris Headrick

        True, but I’d rather have a player with good D and O, and a high price tag on him, rather than D only, and a low price tag. His price will go up to a good degree anyway based on his defensive abilities, but we need a shortstop who can produce runs, not just defend against them.

        • Lee Trocinski

          I’d say right now, even as the 3rd or 4th best overall SS in the league, we could lock him up for a couple $16-18M free-agent years. If he hits .280/.325/.420 this year, he won’t settle for under $24M a year, and that doesn’t guarantee he’s actually that good of a hitter in the future. He’s young enough to get another big contract after a possible extension, so I can’t imagine him being complacent.

          Like I said above, the Braves need to sign players before they break out to keep the team intact. Hindsight is definitely 20/20, but Freeman showed the signs of plate discipline improvement in ’12, and we could have signed him to an extension before this year for much cheaper than what he got. Unless you don’t think Simmons will become a better hitter, you have to give him the money while he’s cheap.

          I realize this isn’t a new concept to you, but I just feel like you’re missing a step in the thought process. I just feel like we can’t let all our players become stars before signing them, and Simmons is likely on the cusp of becoming one, requiring action now, not later.

          • Chris Headrick

            No, I’m not missing a step in your thought process, I just disagree in that I’m not as certain as you that Simba will be one of those “stars”. I think defensively he will always be Simba, but I have not seen anything in him offensively to suggest he will hit greatly above what he’s currently doing, and there are some serious issues with his swing.

            All that said, I get your point, and it’s a valid argument – to go ahead and sign young players while they’re still cheap, to longer contracts. I strongly pulled for a long Freeman contract prior to this last HUGE one, and I agree that was a ball dropped financially. Freddie is a different player offensively though.

            I get it completely, but I just don’t feel as you do regarding Andrelton, and highly doubt he has the same value offensively as Freddie. There’s really not enough of a sample size in two years really to make such a determination either way, granted, but he seems to have actually regressed just a touch over two years offensively for the Braves.

            I’m not as confident that 2014 will be much better for him at the bat, and so I’m not sure he will be in a position to demand the 24M you suggest. I suppose that possibility could be enough for the Braves to make a deal now to save a little “possible” money later, and your point is valid that 16-18M now would certainly be more affordable than potentially 8M more later . I just don’t think he’ll command that much attention, and don’t project that number personally. I don’t even think I can safely project a .280 for him this next year. Now, what am I missing? :) We shall see.

          • fireboss

            The idea of extending him now is certainty at a premium position. The one thing most agree on is that Simba’s glove won’t vanish. If he’s even a 3WAR player with a 250/320/405 slash which isn’t all that optimistic for the next 8 years and you can extend him for that time at 56-64M back loaded to his FA years it’s a steal unless you project Peraza as a better player. Even then trading his team friendly contract would be easy and lucrative.
            There is always a risk in doing such a deal but when you look a the talent and the increasing salaries around the league it’s a risk that give both team and player certainty and worth taking.

          • Chris Headrick

            Ok, you both have convinced me to at least agree with a short, long term ;) Now, I just need Simba to convince me in 2014 he’s worth it, assuming the Braves do the deal :)

          • Lee Trocinski

            That makes more sense. He does have a loopy swing that isn’t conducive with his below-average power. He’s not expected to be the same offensive player as Freddie, but he probably is a tick behind Freeman overall. Runs saved are just as important as runs created, so they are close.

            Also, I am not projecting the line above. I’d say he should hit about .260/.305/.400, about 5 runs below average. Add in a conservative +15 defense, +7.5 positional adjustment, and +20 playing time and you have a 3.5-4 WAR player. I’d take that for $16-18M any day.