Braves Arbitration and Non-Tender Primer

Braves Arbitration and Non-Tender Primer

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.

The List

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.

Final Tally

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.

 

11 Comments

If you are a team looking to upgrade at 1B, Matt Adams makes some sense. If you are such a team, however, trading for him before the non-tender deadline makes little sense.
If you’re the Braves, do you tender this guy a contract if you can’t trade him and possibly lock yourselves into an arbitration hearing or a 1 year contract? I think they take their best shot at trading him, but ultimately they non-tender him after realizing that the value he gave in 2017 far exceeded the player we gave up for him and no one is going to provide even a Juan Yepez value in trade.

Agree! Sound case for all you made involved.

My only ‘concern’ with your take on Peterson and Santana being non-tendered (which I totally agree with)…is why havent The Braves released both yet? Maybe I’m reading too much into it..but I would think that both should have been released not too long after The 2017 Season ended.

I’d guess that there really was no benefit to doing so, which would indicate that AA had no desire to protect either Dustin Peterson or Travis Demeritte even with plenty of 40 man spots available.
Essentially, until the deadline passes all of these guys have at least minimal trade value. You never know…

Makes sense….I stated previously that I DO NOT see any sane MLB team taking TD in The Rule 5 Draft….while there is an outside chance that DP could be selected and given a chance to win a spot in Spring Training (however offered back to The Braves if he doesnt…which is the likely scenario).

I didn’t really jump into the other conversation about this because I was several days late to it, but I generally agree neither will be lost in the longterm. However, I actually see it as the reverse in regards to who gets selected, if not both.

The reason I feel Demeritte will be selected over Peterson is simply because a player with the defensive flexibility of Demeritte is easier to stash on a roster for 90 days than a one-position guy–especially when that one position is a corner outfield spot. You could make a case for a centerfield-capable bat to possibly eek out the 90 days, but not really for a corner outfielder unless you are going to try and play the selection everyday from day 1 like the Marlins did with Uggla when they nabbed him from the D-Backs (or at the very least to platoon him).

That said…Demeritte is a candidate to be selected by anyone looking for utility bench help regardless of intention to compete or not (virtually every team) while Peterson is a candidate to be selected only by teams who likely fit the following criteria: 1) not planning to contend, 2) looking for bargain basement outfield options/unable to attract even the middle tier free agents, 3) has a clear need for a leftfielder, 4) doesn’t have other options within their own farm system (AKA: Weak farm system of outfielders). For Peterson’s services, you may be able to count the teams on one hand who may select him. Without looking at depth charts and farm systems, I’d pinpoint the Rays, White Sox, Tigers and maybe the Marlins if they decide to totally have a firesale after trading Stanton.

Regardless. The likelihood of either sticking on the roster of the selecting teams is very small. It’s less likely for Peterson than it is Demeritte, but losing him may not be that big a deal to in the longrun when hindsight can be 20/20.

Bryce S….it’s not 90 days, but the whole season that a Rule 5 drafted player has to stay on a team’s roster. Dan Winkler was drafted by The Braves a couple of years ago…however he still has to serve another 3 weeks on The Braves roster before he can be sent down to The Minors…because he spent a lot of time on The Disabled List the past two seasons. That made him eligible for Salary Arbitration DESPITE only pitching 18 innings (14 of them this past September) the past three seasons…because he was on the 40 man roster (active on the MLB roster the whole time because he was on The MLB Disabled List).

TD simply cannot hit MLB pitching right now. He has too many holes in his swing…I can only imagine what his strikeout rate would be against MLB pitching in 2018. He needs playing time against Minor League Pitching (wasting away on a MLB roster for the next year…would probably stunt his development). Even if he were to stay in The Braves Organization and play all of 2018 in Double A…he is far from a guarantee to ever develop his swing enough to make it to The Majors.

I just dont see any sane MLB team drafting TD in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. If I’m wrong, then TD will be a lock to be offered back to Atlanta before the season is up. A team would literally be wasting a bench spot on TD…a player has to have some ability to hit MLB pitching, lol!

While Peterson has not played up to the level the Braves and fans expected, I’m not quite ready to give up on him. In 2016 his OBP was .350 and Inciarte’s was .351. Last year, Peterson had a woeful first half, but his second half saw him post a slash line of .286 /.403 / .469 (.871 OPS) Jace’s statcast speed was better than Inciarte’s. I’d give him on more year.

Paul,

I’m replying separately since there isn’t a reply button under your reply to me.

Yeah, my bad. I keep thinking of the Winkler situation and thinking about the 90 days to remain on the active roster. His specific scenario has screwed with my memory on the Rule 5 rules.

However, still, more or less, a player needs to remain on the active roster for just 90 days, at which point a phantom injury could arise to help a team kill time during the year. Shady business, but you know how those oblique strains tend to linger forever and a day. ‘Tis a lot easier to stash a player on the roster the entire season than many make it out to be. The reason why many players are returned to their original organizations is because they simply don’t appear to have what it takes to develop, but it doesn’t mean it was worth the risk to take them.

Otherwise, my point about Demeritte is that his versatility will allow him to stick on a roster longer due to his ability to sub in for any starter needing a day off or to come in everyday as a late-inning supersub. It allows a team to be more patient with a Rule 5 drafted player. If a team simply needs a cheap bench piece and is looking for versatility with some upside, he’s a likely selection. I don’t think you and I are very far apart in assessment of what Demeritte is at this point. I also don’t have a very high opinion of him…and frankly, I wouldn’t be hurt if a team DID select him and DID keep him. All I’m saying is that Demeritte is the type of player teams take a flyer on to see if they strike gold. As you’ve stated, he likely won’t take off as a major leaguer at the moment (and may never do so as many draftees don’t), but just because there’s a strong chance he won’t develop doesn’t mean teams would not take a chance on him in the Rule 5.

Bryce S…..sure TD can play D and run fast. However if dude barely hit .200 in Double A in 2017…I can only imagine what he’d hit against MLB pitching (even in a limited number of at-bats). Even the reserve that gets the least amount of at-bats (who last all year on a roster) will get 150-200 at-bats. TD would simply look overmatched…given that he hasnt had a chance to show any improvement in his swing in real game-time situations (like he would if he had a chance to open 2018 in The Minors)!

If TD had even hit .250 with 20 homers in Double A..The Braves would have probably protected him. However TD absolutely SUCKED/REGRESSED both his batting average and power numbers when comparing 2017 with 2016! I just dont see how drafting him in The Rule 5 Draft would make any sense!

Even if he was stashed away on The Disabled List for part of 2018…he’d still have to make up that lost time during The 2019 Season (just like Dan Winkler still has to be on The 25 man roster for The Braves for the 1st month of 2018 before The Braves will finally have the option of sending him down to Triple A sometime in 2018 without offering him back to Colorado first)!

Paul,

You’re looking at Demeritte from a perspective I can only liken to a World Series caliber team who expects solid production from that 25th man on their roster. While I did lump all teams into this (and still stand by it, because players like Demeritte have value to clubs beyond just offensive numbers), there are at least 10 teams off the top of my head who could absolutely afford to have a utility infielder who hits below the Mendoza line for a year in the hopes that he one day figures things out and fulfills his potential. There are probably even another handful of teams who could simply just stash him just to stash him. By saying no one will take a shot on Demeritte, even for a little while only to return him, you are severely overestimating the value and production of the 25th man across major league baseball, IMO. Let me illustrate…

Tyler Saldino – 281 PA, .178/.254/.229
Danny Espinosa – 295 PA, .173/.245/.278
Alexi Amarista – 176 PA, .238/.269/.351
Adam Rosales – 312 PA, .225/.260/.353
Darwin Barney – 362 PA, .232/.275/.327
Ryan Goins – 459 PA, .237/.286/.356
Alen Hansen – .234 PA, .221/.262/.346
Trevor Plouffe – 313 PA, .198/.272/.318
Allen Cordoba – 227 PA, .208/.282/.297
Mark Canha – 187 PA, .208/.262/.382
Chris Hermann – 256 PA, .181/.273/.345
Taylor Motter – 280 PA, .198/.257/.326
Jacoby Jones – 154 PA, .171/.240/.270
JJ Hardy – 268 PA, .217/.255/.323
Michael Saunders – 234 PA, .202/.256/.344
Erick Aybar – 370 PA, .234/.300/.348
Hyun Soo Kim – 239 PA, .231/.307/.292
Jace Peterson – 215 PA, .215/.318/.317
Danny Santana – 178 PA, .202/.243/.357

I could go on. Those are guys who took up roster spots last year or received significant ABs at one point or another who didn’t necessarily have much upside. All I’m saying is it takes just one team who believes in Demeritte’s upside to take him and put him on the roster. You can’t say many of the names listed above deserved to be major leaguers…some of them regulars at one point or another during the year. A team like the Pirates, Jays, Tigers, Giants, Marlins, White Sox, Rays, Padres could be looking for cheap, young depth and/or lottery tickets, or even potential contenders like the Red Sox, Brewers or even the Nationals could take a good long look at Demeritte simply for his defensive and baserunning abilities.

Again. I’m not saying a team will opt to keep him after getting a first hand look at him. Like you’ve established, Demeritte probably won’t develop in a part time role and I agree with that. I’m just saying (Because you’ve stated no one will draft him) there’s a pretty strong chance there’s at least one team out there intrigued enough by what Demeritte might be able to become to at least see if they can catch lightning in a bottle. Afterall, the price to draft a player is like change you find on the ground in the grocery store parking lot to a major league team. It’s not much of a risk to simply just take a guy to see for yourself what he’s all about.

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