Jul 28, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) fields a ground ball to begin a double play against the St. Louis Cardinals during the sixth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Cardinals 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 2/16


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Craig Kimbrel Agrees To $42M, Four-Year Deal With Atlanta Braves

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel has sidestepped salary arbitration by agreeing to a $42 million, four-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Feb 16, 2014; Lake Buena Vistas, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) catches the ball during spring training at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

”I’m very excited,” Kimbrel told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ”If I didn’t want to be here, this wouldn’t be going on. We’re playing to win. This is where I want to be.”

Kimbrel’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for Monday, which is when he planned to propose a $9 million salary against the Braves’ $6.55 million.

The deal will extend through 2017 with a fifth-year option in 2018 that could increase Kimbrel’s total package to $58.5 million. Braves general manager Frank Wren calls Kimbrel “the best closer in Major League Baseball” and looks forward to the team’s coming years with the young pitcher.

“I think we’re thrilled that Craig’s going to be here for at least the next four years, and we’re pretty confident that it’s going to be five years,” Wren said. “I think when you have the best closer in the game, you’re always hopeful that you can work something out.”

 

Fansided Spring Training

Andrelton Simmons next up for extension with Atlanta Braves

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution said the following in response to a question about Simmons:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post passes along this tidbit:

I get that the Braves want Simmons to hit a little more (.248/.296/.396 in 2013), but they are bluffing if they claim that his offense will ultimately affect his extension. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop the league has seen in a long time (an astounding 41 defensive runs saved in 2013), and at age 24, there is plenty of time for him to grow into more production on offense.

The defense he brings up the middle is truly extraordinary and valuable to the Braves, and so his bat should not hold back extension talks when the time comes.

 

Sports Illustrated

Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster says he won’t play in 2014

Boston Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster plans to take this season off, a decision that surprised teammates and will cost the 16-year veteran $13.25 million in salary.

Dempster said Sunday he is stepping away for physical reasons and to spend more time with his family. But he left a slight opening to play in 2015.

“I had an incredible run, a chance to play 16 years in the major leagues and be around a lot of great teammates, made a lot of good friendships, great friendships,” Dempster said one day before the first formal spring training workout for pitchers and catchers. “I’m totally comfortable with it. I’m at peace with my decision.”

Dempster, whose contract expires after this season, finished his only year with the Red Sox with an 8-9 record and a 4.57 ERA and didn’t get a start during their postseason run to a World Series title.

“The past few years have been tougher and tougher,” he said. “As you get older, going through some things, some issues I have with my neck that have made it harder and harder to throw a baseball and throw it like I’m accustomed to throw it” contributed to his decision.

 

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