The Atlanta Braves have acted quickly this offseason reenforcing the back end of the bullpen while trying to turn an uncertainty in 2019 into a strength for 2020. The Braves still have a number of questions that still need to be answered in regards to the current roster. One question that may not get answered this offseason is a contract extension for first baseman Freddie Freeman.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tackled that question in his weekly mailbag on Friday and pointed to Freeman’s elbow injury as a potential reason to wait just a bit longer before discussing a new deal. Freeman put up career best numbers in 2019 but a bone spur in his right elbow became an issue down the stretch and hampered his production in the postseason. He underwent surgery to correct the issue earlier this offseason and is expected to be ready for spring training with no restrictions.
Atlanta has so much left to do with their current roster that we may not hear anything in regards to an extension for Freeman until next offseason.
More Braves News
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal gives some insight on Atlanta’s big bet on relievers this offseason. Alex Anthopoulos was forced to address the bullpen at the trade deadline last season and made three separate deals for Mark Melancon, Chris Martin and Shane Greene. In theory, by acquiring help now, Anthopoulos won’t be forced to pay a premium price for a reliever at the deadline. Additionally, both Greene and Melancon will be free agents at the end of the season but Will Smith, Martin and Darren O’Day could all return giving the Braves value beyond just the 2020 season.
MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis runs down some surprising additions to team’s 40-man rosters at Wednesday’s Rule 5 deadline. He spotlights Atlanta’s decision to add left-hander Philip Pfeifer, whom they acquired from the Dodgers for Bud Norris, to the roster. Pfeifer saw limited success after joining the Braves and found himself back in High A in 2019. He transitioned back to a starter and turned his season and perhaps his career amassing a 2.97 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 133 1/3 innings across three levels.
MLB Free Agency/Trade Rumors
The Chicago White Sox and first baseman Jose Abreu are in agreement on a three-year, $50 million extension. Abreu will receive a $5 million signing bonus, $11 million in 2020, $16 million in 2021 and $18 million in 2022 with $4 million deferred. Abreu accepted the $17.8 million qualifying offer earlier this offseason but this deal will replace that. The White Sox have been busy this week having already signed free catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year deal on Thursday.
The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested in former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius. Philadelphia already has shortstop options including incumbent Jean Segura along with Scott Kingery. The Phillies however are interested in improving their infield situation this offseason and Gregorius could be a part of that.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly more open to the idea of trading left-hander Robbie Ray this offseason. Ray has one year remaining on his contract before reaching free agency. Arizona is reportedly looking for controllable pitching in return for Ray.
More MLB News
MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis reports that the Seattle Mariners are nearing an extension with 23-year old first base prospect Evan White. White will become just the fourth player in MLB history to sign a long term extension before reaching the Majors. The deal is reportedly a six-year pact worth a guaranteed $24 million but it also contains three additional club option years that could bring the value to $55.5 million.
The New York Yankees released outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury earlier this week while he is still owed in excess of $26 million for the final year of a seven-year, $153 million contract that he signed with New York. However, the Yankees intend not to pay Ellsbury after he underwent outside medical treatment without the approval of the organization. The MLBPA issued a statement Friday afternoon that they are prepared to fight the issue on behalf of Ellsbury.