lol…I post this, turn on MLB Network, and they are reporting breaking news that Zack Greinke had been traded to the Angels. So…this is mostly a waste.
So, from the majority of people I have in contact with, I’ve WAY too dramatic/pessimistic about Zack Greinke’s impact on the team from what I said on my blog and at chopnation yesterday. So, with that mind, let’s rosterbate this out and fit Greinke.
July 28th, 2012: Atlanta sends Randall Delgado, Joey Terdoslavich, and Todd Cunningham to the Milwaukee Brewers for Zack Greinke. I’m not sure it’s enough, but we can quibble about that later. I will concede that maybe Julio Teheran can be taken off the table from the Braves’ side. Milwaukee might want to deal Greinke before his scheduled start Sunday.
…a week later, Atlanta agrees to a 5 year, $102.5M contract with Greinke with a $5M signing bonus, half paid in 2012 and half paid opening day of 2013. Now, that contract might be low. I could be off on the total for up to $10M. Anyway, the deal looks like this. 2013: 15.5M with $2.5M of the bonus, 2014: $21.75M, 2015: $21.75M, 2016: $21.75, 2017: $21.75. I backloaded the deal a little so that the team would have more flexibility in 2013.
Moving on to the offseason, Atlanta has two players under contract once the season ends. Zack Greinke and Dan Uggla = $28.7M (I’m ignoring the signing bonus for now).
Options! Obviously, Chipper Jones’ $7M club option won’t be exercised since he’s retiring. Brian McCann’s $12M option and Tim Hudson’s $9M option, which are both of the club variety, will be exercised. However, as my friend Bryce said, maybe the Braves can cut down on Huddy’s option by extending him through 2014 with a two year deal for $12-$15M. Jones did something similar a few years ago. But for our purposes, the options will be exercised for McCann and Hudson for $21M, total, and puts the current payroll at $49.7M
Thinking Arby? Atlanta has a lot of arbitration-eligible guys. Martin Prado will probably double his $4.75M salary in the final year of arbitration with the season he’s having. Atlanta might be better off extending him to the tune of 3 years, $27M. However, for now, let’s settle at $8.75M as Atlanta plays hardball. Eric O’Flaherty has not been as dominant, but will get a raise over his $2.75M salary to $3.5M. Paul Janish…is it better to spend a million on him or another veteran infielder? I don’t want to bring in a lot of new guys so we will keep him around for a million, plus incentives. The first-time arbitration guys are serious players, too. Typically, teams try to lock up their young stud outfielders before arbitration. Justin Upton, Grady Sizemore, Nick Markakis, and others were locked up either before their last pre-arbitration year or after the last pre-arbitration year (but before settling on a salary for that arbitration year). Even if Atlanta does lock up Heyward, the first year of the deal will likely mimic his first arbitration year. Adam Jones got $3.25M so I think Heyward should be in the same neighborhood. $3.5M for Heyward. Tommy Hanson is a tough one, but in his first year of arbitration, I’d say he would get near Heyward. Let’s put him at $3.25M. Jonny Venters will get more than O’Flaherty did, but his struggles this year will be used to land at $2M. Kris Medlen doesn’t have a lot of reasonable comparisons, but we will put him at $1.5M, especially if he does move to the starting staff. Old Lipsy Martinez might be arbitration eligible, but we will put him at $800K. Am I missing anyone? OHHH…Jair Jurrjens. Yeah, non-tender, goodbye. That gives us 12 players. Total payroll at $74M.
Keeping Free Agents. Love Michael Bourn, but the market is likely to overvalue him. Not Carl Crawford overvalued, but overvalued. We just can’t devote roughly half of the left-over payroll to him. See ya, Mike. Matt Diaz? Maybe a minor-league invite if this thumb issue keeps him out for the rest of the season. But we will say goodbye for now. Eric Hinske? Not working, guy. Jack Wilson and Chad Durbin? Adios, guys. That leaves the two significant free agents. David Ross and Ben Sheets. Provided Sheets continues to perform without any injury problems, I see him as an $8M guy in free agency. He might love Atlanta and be thankful for the opportunity we gave him, but at this point, Atlanta is bargain shopping and Sheets just doesn’t fit. As for Rossy, it all depends on how much of a raise Ross wants from his $1.625M salary. Two years ago today, he signed his extension. Ross seems to love Atlanta and would provide us a veteran possibility for 2014 if McCann leaves. He inks an incentive-laden deal that will pay him $2M a year for 2013 and 2014. Total payroll at $76M.
Renewing Some Guys. Atlanta may want to consider keeping costs low and try to buy out arbitration years for Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel. Between those two, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor, I would say the Braves are committing around $2.15M just to keep them happy with over $500K rather than simply renewing their contracts. We are at 17 players, though one is disabled. Let’s go ahead and average out $480K to get us to 30 players. I realize that the major league roster is 25 players, but due to injuries, split contracts, and so forth, guys will ultimately get close to what I’m guessing even if the Braves add some players. With that $6.24M added to the $2.15M from early, total payroll is at $84.39M.
Pre-Free Agency Roster
Starting Rotation – Greinke, Hudson, Hanson, Minor, Teheran/Medlen
Bullpen – Kimbrel, Venters, O’Flaherty, Martinez, Vizcaino, Avilan, Varvaro/Medlen
Catcher – McCann, Ross
Infield – Freeman, Uggla, Simmons, Prado, Janish, Pastornicky, Francisco
Outfield – Heyward, Durango, Constanza, Gartrell
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the guys in the outfield. With Prado moving to third to replace Jones and Bourn moving on to riches, the outfield becomes super thin. I have seen zero from Francisco to believe he can be a legitimate option next year and he’s a placeholder more than anything.
With about $10M left, Atlanta has serious questions in the outfield and needs at least two players, if not a better fourth outfielder. Let’s check the market and see what we can come up with.
Center field: The free agency market for center fielders is dead after Bourn. B.J. Upton will likely be overpaid and Shane Victorino is a switch-hitter in name-only. As much as I hate adding a left-hand bat to the equation…Atlanta sends Zeke Spruill (and maybe another piece) to the Twins for Denard Span. A superb defender to replace Bourn, Span is a solid 3-4 WAR guy who, despite hitting left-handed, has an almost even split against left-handers as he does against right-handers. The Twins have supposedly had Span on the market for awhile and might reallocate the money due to him ($4.75M in 2013, $6.5M in 2014, $9M club option in 2015 with a $500K buyout).
Left field: Using Spruill to answer the problems in center gives the Braves one less trading piece for left field. I’m keeping Gilmartin as my reserve starter in Gwinnett next year so he’s off the market. I’m thinking a platoon option might be my best bet. To replace Matt Diaz, Jonny Gomes is signed for $1.25M. He can’t hit lefties so keep him away from them. However, against righties, you can plop him into the middle of the order and let him rock the kasbah. Meanwhile, I am thinking Angel Pagan does not have many suitors. He’s always been the opposite of Victorino in that even though he’s a switch hitter, he historically is much better against right-handed pitchers. $4M base salary for 2013, $6.5M team option for 2014.
Total payroll now sits at $94.39M. I hate the bench, I’m nervous about the rotation, the bench is not improved, and I’m iffy on my pickups, but I did think that this is the kind of thing that could happen. The bench could be improved by late spring pickups/surprises. Still, God help this team if Hudson goes down.
Lineup – (against RH) – Span, Prado, Heyward, McCann, Uggla, Freeman, Simmons, Pagan
Lineup (against LH) – Span, Prado, Heyward, Gomes, McCann, Uggla, Freeman, Simmons
I guess it could work, though I still don’t like it. I’m not even going to get into the long-term picture just yet.