As the 2019 season comes to a close, the Atlanta Braves will face several decisions with their current roster. While Atlanta will have some money coming off the books they will also have to plan for some of that to go towards arbitration raises for several players.
The Braves currently have nine players who will be arbitration eligible this offseason. MLB Trade Rumors has released its annual projection of arbitration salaries for the upcoming offseason. Below is a list of Atlanta’s arbitration eligible players and a few thoughts on what the team will have to consider before bringing them back.
It is also worth mentioning that the Braves had 10 arbitration eligible players at the beginning of last offseason and were able to come to terms with each avoiding the arbitration process.
Mike Foltynewicz - $7.5 MM
Mike Foltynewicz headlines this list as he is due another substantial raise in arbitration. His 2019 season got off to a rough start with an elbow injury in spring training and early struggles led to an eventual trip to the minors. He saw much better results after returning from Gwinnett, put together an excellent start in Game 2 of the NLDS but had his season end on a disappointing note throwing just 23 pitches before an early exit in Game 5.
Shane Greene - $6.5 MM
The Braves acquired Shane Greene at the July trade deadline as part of their bullpen makeover. He struggled initially after the trade but pitched better in September. He appeared in 27 games while posting a 4.01 ERA and 3.94 FIP in 24 2/3 innings. 2020 will be his last year of arbitration before becoming a free agent.
Adam Duvall - $3.8 MM
This time last season Adam Duvall looked like a candidate to be non-tendered. He stuck around, went to Gwinnett and put up a monster season and eventually made his way back to the majors. He ran hot and cold while with the Braves but ended up hitting .267/.315/.567 with 10 home runs in 41 games.
Dansby Swanson - $3.3 MM
Dansby Swanson will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. Swanson broke out in the first half putting up a .270/.330/.493 line with 19 doubles, three triples and 17 home runs. A heel injury set him back in the second half and he struggled at the plate once he returned hitting just .204/.315/.254 with no home runs over the final 38 games. He did rebound in the postseason going 7-for-18 at the plate with three doubles in the NLDS. Swanson could end up being an extension candidate or the Braves could opt to wait for him to put together a full season before making that kind of commitment. Whatever they decide, he is due a big raise in 2020 after making just over $580K last season.
Luke Jackson - $1.9 MM
Luke Jackson was another player who came into 2018 on shaky ground only to hang onto his roster spot for the full season. However, Jackson turned in the best season of his career overall posting a 3.84 ERA in 72 2/3 innings pitched. His peripheral numbers were even better with a 3.24 FIP and a 2.52 xFIP. He increased his strikeout percentage from 25% last season to 33.7% in 2019. The results fell off in the second half as he put up a 5.65 ERA in 28 2/3 innings the peripheral stats remained strong with a 3.91 FIP and a 2.51 xFIP.
Relievers are a volatile commodity and you need look no further than Sam Freeman from a couple of seasons ago as a comparison.
Charlie Culberson - $1.8 MM
An unfortunate injury in the final week of the season ended Charlie Culberson’s season prematurely. He got off to a blistering start at the plate before regressing to a .259/.294/.437 line with five homers in 144 plate appearances. His WOBA of .321 once again outpaced his XWOBA which was at .273 but that has been the case for both of his seasons in Atlanta. His versatility makes him valuable and he seems to be a favorite of Brian Snitker and his teammates. Culberson made just under $1.4 million in 2019 so his projected raise is a modest one.
Johan Camargo - $1.6 MM
Like Swanson, Johan Camargo is arbitration eligible for the first time. After a breakout 2018, Camargo struggled in a utility role, ended up back at Gwinnett, returned but took a foul ball off his shin which resulted in a fracture which ended his season. His numbers overall are disappointing at .233/.279/.384 with seven home runs. Camargo’s versatility remains appealing and he logged time in both corner outfield slots this season. He made just $575K this season according to Cots and could see his salary triple in arbitration per the projection.
John Ryan Murphy - $1.2 MM
The Braves picked up John Ryan Murphy to help provide some catcher depth down the stretch. He was added to the 40-man roster and was eventually activated in September but made just one pinch-hit appearance for Atlanta. He is the one guy on this list that looks like a lock to be DFA’d to help clear space on the 40-man roster.
Grant Dayton - $800K
Grant Dayton spent most of the 2019 season at Triple-A or on the injured list. He appeared in 14 games for the Braves posting a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings but with a 6.21 FIP and 4.70 xFIP. Still, it is a small sample size and he performed well in Gwinnett. Health at this point is his biggest concern.