In the first really big information flood from the Braves Spring Training camp David O’Brien gave lots of interesting goodies so I thought I’d pass some of them on.
Heyward unlikely to be extended
This isn’t a surprise to our readers and anyone else paying attention. I’ve been saying for a while that Jason Heyward needed to be extended or traded. The Braves extended him only to the end of his arbitration years which in itself is a message. DOB gave some of the same reasons we’ve been writing about but filled in a few details.
When he and the Braves were a figurative mile apart in their preliminary discussions of what I’m told was a five-year deal after the 2012 season, there were no other multi-year discussions until they agreed to the two-year deal that covers his last two arb years before free agency after the ’15 season.. . .I’ve got a feeling (heyward and his agents) wouldn’t accept anything less for his first five free agent years than, oh, the $106.5 million that Freeman is going to get in what would’ve been his first five free-agent years.
I opined that Heyward would consider anything less than $100M an insult -regardless of his arb year and that he would feel money passed up by not signing he could make up as a free agent. Chalk one up for me.
As most rumors suggest the Braves have other signings in the pipeline.
It’s all about timing, and in the cases of Freeman, Kimbrel and Teheran – and I’d bet on Andrelton Simmons and Mike Minor and possibly Kris Medlen getting extension offers within the next year — the timing was right for the Braves and some players who had a strong desire to sign long-term and liked the idea of staying in Atlanta.
That’s the first mention of Minor and Medlen extension I’ve seen outside of my posts here – of course I don’t see everything – and obviously I think it’s good news. In a related Tweet Joel Sherman says he knows why Simmons hasn’t yet been signed.
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
I’m been in discussions on the site about the need to sign him now. Simba won’t be arbitration eligible until 2015 (barring disaster he will be a super 2); not a FA until 2019 and shortstops just aren’t that pricey. The elite hitters amongst shortstops get big money but the rest don’t get any bank breaking salary because as Sherman says contracts are based on offense. If he were to hit 20 homers a year and his slash up to something like the .282/.313/.431 that Alexei Ramirez had when he got his deal then he might well near bigger money. He and his people think he can get there and stay there, the Braves apparently don’t and they have Jose Peraza winging his way up the minor leagues to take Simba’s spot if they can’t work something out. So I side with Simmons camp on this. Give him a year or two (if he still won’t sign) to prove that his hitting will get better and stay there. When the Braves signed Freeman long term and didn’t offer Heyward a similar deal they signaled they wanted consistency and were willing to pay for it.
B.J. Upton has a new swing…again…
In another short burst of info O’Brien said that B.J. had a new swing and posted video of it. A quick look shows that he’s more open now, similar to Andres Galarraga’s nut less upright. He closes up as he steps into the swing and that appears to have replaced that weird double toe tap timing mechanism. His crouch is more pronounced than before reminded me a bit of Jordan Schafer but even more tucked. This isn’t the first time he’s changed his swing as I noted last month. It is is however the first time the toe tap is gone completely – that I’ve seen video of anyway. The test will be when he gets into game situations that count. I though I had a picture showing him more crouched earlier in his career but I can’t put my hand on it. As I recall that was in 2007-8 when he was swinging the bat well. The Braves have to hope he reverts back to that form, his 2008 slash was .273/.383/.401/.784 though he only had nine homers that year. Power is something the Braves have so if he hits nine bug flies but drives in 70 runs and score 85 that’s fine.
That’s A Wrap
No real word on the everyday players as mandatory reporting isn’t until Tuesday but it was nice to get new stuff to talk about particularly when it’s generally good news. In the weeks ahead we’re going to hear about Dan Uggla and B.J. a lot and I hope it’s all positive. One thing of note – at least I thought so – was that during his interview on XM Radio’s Front Office,the GM said the one thing the rotation is missing is a true number one. That is if not a change a return to his position before he found out what a true number one cost. I’m not sure we won’t see a move – a shocking move perhaps – to land one as some point. I know it’s a fleeting hope but I’m up at 2 AM writing this so maybe it’s a dream that could come true.
On a personal note I ask a while back if the Braves might take a shot at A.J. Burnett suggesting that he might fit the rotation well. He has since signed with the Phillies and we heard that he was miffed the Pirates only offered him $8.5M to return. On the surface that’s an insult to Burnett who had a stellar season with the Bucs in 2013. Later we learned that after not getting the game five start in the playoffs, Burnett threw what my Daddy would in polite company have called a hissy fit and that players were shocked at the magnitude of it. That leads me to two conclusions: 1) I know why he was offered that low ball amount or at least I have a good guess. Professional ballplayers should act like grown men and not rant and rave like a three year old who didn’t get his way. Knowing what I do of Clint Hurdle I’m sure he wasn’t best pleased at Burnett’s display and might have let it be known that he didn’t like that around. 2) I’m as glad the Braves didn’t sign him this time around as I was when he went to the Yankees and took their 80 odd million buck to pitch to a 500 record and a 4.59 ERA. Just my take of course, let me know yours.