Alex Anthopoulos’ first couple weeks on the job have mostly been about getting acquainted with a brand new organization and building his baseball ops department they way he wants it. But now it’s time for some roster moves. As it often does in baseball, the calendar somewhat dictates when moves are made. This week is the non-tender deadline for arbitration eligible players. Basically, any arbitration players the team doesn’t plan on tendering a contract too must notified by Friday at 8 pm.
Atlanta has 7 arbitration eligible players on it’s current roster and a few of them are candidates for being non-tendered so we’ll look at the full list. The arbitration process has been around a while and operates under a certain amount of predictability, based on performance and precedent. What this means is we can, with a decent amount of accuracy, project what each of these players will get for their raises and how that will affect their roster status. Next to each player’s name will be their projected salary raise.
1B/DH Matt Adams – $4.6M
The first, and arguably most interesting, name on this list is 1B Matt Adams. Braves acquired Adams in a deal with St. Louis after superstar and current 1B, Freddie Freeman, broke his wrist in late May. Adams went on a run with the bat, posting an absurd 140 wRC+ while Freeman was out which actually led to the team moving Freeman to 3B after he returned.
That experiment didn’t last long, however, as Adams’ performance came back to earth. Freeman was moved back to 1B and Adams to the bench. $4.6M is a lot to pay for a bench bat who struggles with LHP so the question has naturally turned to what becomes of Adams in 2018? A report surfaced Monday that Atlanta was shopping him all over baseball, which makes sense, given the deadline Friday.
My guess is he’s traded to an AL team needing help at both 1B and DH for a modest return. I think Atlanta will find a better use of that almost $5M.
SP Mike Foltynewicz – $2.7M
Folty is definitely not one the players in danger of being non-tendered this week, as he was undoubtedly Atlanta’s best SP last year. His raise will be relatively modest given this is his first time through the arbitration process and the mediocre numbers he put up in 2017. Being Atlanta’s best SP last year wasn’t a high bar to reach.
I guess, theoretically, Atlanta could lock him up to long-term extension but count me as one who would be surprised to see that. Of course, my thoughts on him are well known by now.
RP Arodys Vizcaino – $3.7M
Arodys has probably the least interesting case of any of Atlanta’s 7. He’s not being non-tendered, he’s most likely not being traded, and I really don’t see an extension in his future. At least not yet. Vizcaino was, for the most part, a consistent producer for Atlanta’s pen in 2017 and I’m guessing he’ll be there again come opening day 2018.
The only bit of drama to be had here is if the two sides can’t agree on a number later this off-season and have to go to a hearing to have an arbitrator decide.
RP Sam Freeman – $1.2M
Freeman is another drama-free case. Unless Atlanta sees him as a sell high candidate, I see him back in the bullpen in 2018. This is his first time through arbitration so the raise will be minimal, at least in baseball terms. Still a seven-figure salary.
UTIL Jace Peterson – $1.1M
Like Freeman, Jace is entering arbitration for the first time so the financial commitment to keep him wont be significant. Unlike Freeman, however, Jace doesn’t really have any strong argument for remaining on the roster. He has a career 78 wRC+, he’s projected for an 83 wRC+ in 2018, and while he has some defensive versatility, he doesn’t really excel at any of those positions. And if the Braves make a move for a 3B this off-season like I think they will, Johan Camargo moves to that UTIL role, and frankly, he’s just a better player than Jace.
Fans have always loved Jace for his workman like mentality, but at some point, production matters. And the bottom line is, after 3 seasons and over 1250 PAs, Jace has produced exactly 0.0 WAR.
I could be wrong, but this weeks feels like the end of the line for Jace Peterson in Atlanta.
OF Danny Santana – $1.1M
Santana was a buy low candidate the team picked up last year in the hopes he’d find the magic he had from his rookie season. Of course, when you notice that 132 wRC+ from his rookie season was fueled by a .405 BABIP, you realize it wasn’t magic. Just unsustainable luck. Like Jace, Santana wont cost much but also like Jace, his case for staying on this roster is weak at best and hopeless at worst.
The best chance he has is if the team feels like they’re going to move Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp this winter. In that case, they might just want warm bodies with MLB experience on the roster. But even in that scenario, there are better warm bodies you can keep around. And they might post something better than the 51 wRC+ Santana did last year.
Sorry Danny, I don’t see a way your roster spot survives this week.
RP Daniel Winkler – $800K
We’ll end on probably the weirdest case of the bunch. Through injuries and roster oddities, Winkler finds himself arbitration eligible after only 18 career innings pitched. Braves selected Winkler in the Rule 5 Draft back on December 11, 2014 and have carried him ever since, through injuries and setbacks.
The reason they continue to carry him is because his talent is real. 14 of his 18 career innings pitched came last year and he posted a 2.51 ERA and a 2.81 FIP. Combine that with a 34% strikeout rate and the talent is evident.
But now, the bullpen is getting crowded as more and more of these pitchers start coming up. Not only that, but it’s been widely reported the Braves will look to add at least a couple veteran RPs this off-season. Is there still room for Winkler? I’m guessing there will be and he gets a chance to show he’s fully healthy next year. Braves have already shown the patience. Might as well reap the benefits.
So to recap, we have:
- Matt Adams traded
- Folty, Vizcaino, Freeman and Winkler tendered contracts
- Peterson and Santana non-tendered
Agree? Disagree? Let me know.