Pay much attention to the man behind the star player.
It’s been a busy week for the Braves’ actuarians in the past couple of weeks: four new contracts (Kimbrel, Teheran, Heyward and the big one: Freddie Freeman‘s monster deal). There may be more still to come, though there’s a report that there may be a gap between the Braves and Andrelton Simmons‘ camp over exactly how to value the offensive side of Wonder Glove’s abilities.
Hear #Braves want to sign Simmons long term but sides differ on offensive value now/future. Hitting pays huge, defense doesn’t.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 16, 2014
There’s a bit more on this in today’s Morning Chop. We’ll have to stay tuned on this one. It’s also certainly possible that Atlanta will continue to seek out others for strategic extension offers.
Meanwhile, it’s probably a good moment to review just how much the Braves have spent this winter. You might actually be a little underwhelmed:
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- First and most obvious one: they are still clinging under that $100 million threshold… despite the extensions.
- 2015 will be a fairly big money year… maybe.
- Heyward actually gave the Braves a break – he could have pushed for something much higher
- Kimbrel did too: note that his 2015 dollars match this year’s arbitration request! When I wrote this piece just last week, that wasn’t even remotely on the radar. Even under the scenario in which the Braves win the now-moot arbitration hearing, Kimbrel was in line for something close to $10 million next year. Clearly, the ‘home-town-discount’ came into play. Thanks, Craig for making that happen.
- With all the trouble Atlanta had in trying to trade Dan Uggla in the past few months, chances should improve prior to the 2015 season if he shows some improvement. Either way, 2015 will be the last year that he’s on the books.
- The players on the hot seat this year will be named Chris… or Kris. Chris Medlen and Chris Johnson will have a 3rd arbitration year in 2015 (Johnson is a Super-2 and will get a 4th one in 2016). The are in line for sizable bumps then, so we’ll see later if the Braves want to go there.
- Gavin Floyd will undoubtedly be off the books, since it was his desire to re-enter the free agent market.
- So even for 2015, there will be some serious flexibility available – probably even more than existed this off-season.
- Committed dollars continue to drop over time (exception 2017, when Freeman gets a large…Yankee-proof?… bump).
I suppose I should explain that last remark: Mark Teixeira‘s deal with the Yankees expires after 2016. I have to think that the lure of an available young lefty first baseman with power would be difficult for them to ignore… and thus the Braves made sure that they made an offer Freddie couldn’t refuse for 2017.
This author has been all over the Braves about payroll, spending and the like. There has been a lot of speculation that these new contracts have been made possible by the new stadium deal and the new revenue it is expected to generate. I am going to suggest that such speculation is a bit premature. In fact, real spending has not actually increased to this point: as Justin Upton and perhaps Jason Heyward drop off the chart*, others are rising to take that money, but I cannot see that the overall payroll can be projected higher… yet.
But that’s also the smart way to do things.
* – I will still maintain that Jason and the Braves do not seem to be far apart on their figures, but each side seems to be content to monitor their respective situations for now. Thus I would not be surprised to see Heyward around a while longer.
The Cobb stadium deal is likely making it possible to do a couple of things that are important:
- Make the team more comfortable about the idea of offering long-term extensions
- Making the team itself look less penny-pinching, which should pay off in terms of attracting future free agents to fill strategic holes.
We’ve already seen this happen: Kimbrel himself is said to have kicked his own agent into action once he saw the deals with Freddie’s and Jason. Suddenly their hardball position softened dramatically.
I will give my congratulations to the organization in getting these deals done. I’ll also give additional points because they have done these deals in a manner that seems to be ‘payroll neutral.’ Whether they can actually increase the budget in the future will remain to be seen, but certainly they now seem to be well-positioned to pounce of future opportunities as they become available.