Seven Braves file for salary arbitration
Kimbrel, Freeman, Heyward, Medlen, Minor, Johnson and Schafer yet to sign
ATLANTA -- After remaining relatively quiet throughout most of this winter, Braves general manager Frank Wren and his staff will be quite busy this week as they attempt to reach an agreement with each of the club's seven unsigned arbitration-eligible players.
Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Chris Johnson and Jordan Schafer filed for salary arbitration before Tuesday's deadline. Now, the stage is set for each player and the club to exchange salary figures on Friday.
The Braves have made it known that they are now a file-and-trial club. This means if an agreement is not reached within the next few days and salary figures are exchanged with a player on Friday, the club will immediately end negotiations and plan to go to an arbitration hearing during which that particular player's 2014 salary will be determined.
Less than a week before being traded to the Diamondbacks last year, Martin Prado was the only player to exchange figures with the Braves. Had he not been traded, Prado would have become the first Atlanta player to go to a hearing since John Rocker in 2001.
While many fans have wondered whether the Braves might attempt to lock up Heyward or Freeman with a long-term multiyear deal this winter, there has not yet been any attempt to do so. Atlanta approached Heyward with this possibility last year before the discussion was abruptly halted.
Among these Braves players, Kimbrel and Freeman are going to gain the most significant raises. This year marks the first they have been eligible for arbitration.
During the negotiations and potential hearing, Kimbrel will be compared to Jonathan Papelbon, who received a $6.25 million salary when he was arbitration-eligible for the first time with the Red Sox after the 2008 season. Kimbrel's salary is expected to rise from $655,000 to somewhere between $7 millon and $7.25 million.
Freeman, who finished fourth in this year's National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting, is expected to see his salary rise from $560,000 to the vicinity of $5 million.
Heyward gained a $3.65 million salary as a first-time arbitration-eligible last year. After missing two months this past season, he will likely receive a raise of approximately $1 million.
Medlen's value has risen significantly since he became a starting pitcher on a full-time basis on July 31, 2013. The 2.47 ERA he has since compiled ranks second only to Clayton Kershaw among all pitchers who have made at least 40 starts during this span. As a second-year arbitration-eligible, Medlen will likely double the $2.6 million salary he received this year.
It is safe to say Johnson will be receiving more than the Braves projected when they acquired him in the deal that also brought Justin Upton to Atlanta last year. After ranking second in the NL with a .321 batting average, Johnson could see the $2.29 million salary he received this past year move just above the $4 million mark.
Like Kimbrel and Freeman, Minor and Schafer are eligible for the arbitration process for the first time this year. Minor compiled enough service time to gain this status as a Super Two player. This means he will be eligible for arbitration for four years, one year more than the norm.
The Braves entered the offseason with 14 arbitration-eligible players and then opted to not tender contracts to Elliot Johnson, Cristhian Martinez and Paul Janish. They further whittled that list down by reaching agreements with Jordan Walden, Jonny Venters, Brandon Beachy and Ramiro Pena.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.