In my last piece I took a look at some notable trades the Braves have made during Frank Wren's tenure. I'm going to focus on waiver claims, free agents, etc. in this piece. I'll only cover the ones that made a notable impact on the team or payroll because there are simply too many small moves made every year to keep it all in one concise piece.
January 25, 2008. The Braves sign Rafael Soriano to a two year contract worth $9 million.
Soriano was originally acquired in 2006 in a trade for Horacio Ramirez. Anyways, Soriano was a solid pitcher for the Braves. He racked up 30 saves and sub-3 ERA before ultimately being traded to the Rays in 2009. A very solid efficient bullpen signing.
November 21, 2008. The Braves claim Eric O'Flaherty off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners.
EOF was essentially picked up off of the scrap heap. Unfortunately, we lost Eric early this year and he's out for all of 2013. Eric never had a subpar year in Atlanta and was about as much of a sure thing as a reliever could be for 3-4 years.
January 12, 2009. Sign Omar Infante to a two year contract for $4.3 million.
Omar accumulated 3.3 WAR over 204 games in 2009 & 2010. He was a solid utility player. The friendly contract and above average offensive production from 2B made this deal very worthwhile.
January 15, 2009. Sign Derek Lowe to a 4 year deal worth $60 million.
Yikes. It was an overpay from the very beginning. Lowe was a solid pitcher during his career, but it just never happened in Atlanta. He compiled 6.5 WAR in three seasons in Atlanta before ultimately being dealt to save us $5 million. The Braves paid nearly $8.4 million per win above replacement. This was probably Wren's biggest mistake on the free agent market.
February 25, 2009. Sign Garrett Anderson to a one year deal for $2.5 million.
This was pretty much an awful move all around. Anderson was a struggling veteran simply hoping to hang on and apparently all we required from him as an OF was to have a pulse. He was actually worth -1.0 WAR during 2009. Granted, the deal didn't cost us much, but it was still a failure.
March 31, 2009. Sign Chipper Jones to a three year extension worth $42 million.
You can't really argue against paying for Chipper. The dollars might seem like a lot for a player in his later years, but usually length of contract is what gets you into a bind. Chipper was the face of the franchise and he was definitely worth the money when he was on the field. He accumulated 7.1 WAR in the final 3 years. That comes out to around $5.9 million per win, but his WAR total is dragged down a little by his lack of at bats due to injuries. It might have been a slight overpay, but it was one worth making.
November 13, 2009. Re-up Tim Hudson on a three year deal with an option for 2013 for a total of $37 million.
The power of the free agent market is an odd thing. Derek Lowe nearly doubled Tim's total despite not being quite as good. This deal was a tremendous value for the Braves right from the beginning. Unfortunately, Huddy's 2013 was cut short recently due to injury. He still compiled 9.5 WAR over the past 3+ seasons. That's good for $3.8 million per win. The deal worked out very well for both sides.
January 13, 2011. Claimed Anthony Varvaro on waivers from the Seattle Mariners.
Another nice bullpen piece found by Wren and Co. off of the scrap heap. He isn't special by any means, but he's been pretty solid in 2013 at the major league level. For a waiver claim, it's very good value.
July 1, 2012. Signed Ben Sheets to a minor league deal.
It was fun while it lasted. Sheets ultimately gave the Braves a nice shot in the arm down the stretch in 2012. He posted a 2.13 ERA in his first 6 starts, when the Braves desperately needed the innings. Wren went looking for lightning in a bottle and he happened to catch it.
November 29, 2013. Signed B.J. Upton to a 5 year deal worth $75.25 million.
Well, the deal hasn't started off too well. B.J. got off to a rough start, showed some signs of recovery, and then hit the DL with a knee injury. It's way too early to throw in the towel though. Upton is still a very talented player even though he definitely has his flaws. This contract simply depends on how B.J. responds the rest of the season and how next season goes. If next season is just as rough, it's probably just going to become a sunk cost similar to the Derek Lowe deal. I'll be he responds to be, at the very least, a useful player. He's paid like a star though, so let's hope he returns to form sooner rather than later.
I left off most of the arbitration deals and small signings, because most of the time they are a formality. I'll tackle the drafts and international signings of recent years next.