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Matt Adams headlines Braves’ arbitration eligible players

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Will Big City be back in a Braves’ uniform in 2018?

Texas Rangers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves will have several decisions to make as they have seven current players who will be arbitration eligible. MLB Trade Rumors has developed an accurate model at projecting arbitration salaries and have updated their projections for the 2017 offseason.

The non-tender deadline will be on December 1. Teams and players will exchange arbitration figures on January 12. Both sides can continue to negotiate in hopes of reaching a deal before going to an arbitration hearing.

Below is a snapshot of the Braves players that are arbitration eligible and a few thoughts on what the team will have to consider before bringing them back.

Matt Adams (5.033) – $4.6MM

Adams is perhaps the most intriguing name on this list. Atlanta picked him up via trade with St. Louis on May 20 after Freddie Freeman suffered a fractured wrist. Adams stepped in and stepped up his game producing an OPS+ of 121. He was worth 1.6 fWAR on the season and was valuable enough that the Braves shifted Freeman to third for a brief time once he returned from the disabled list.

Adams’ bat (career 111 wRC+) is a valuable commodity to have around particularly as a bench option and as insurance for Freeman. However, it remains to be seen if he might be more valuable to another team who could use him as an everyday first base option or as a DH.

Once Freeman shifted back to first base for good, the Braves played Adams in left field although it was clear that that wasn’t a viable long-term option. Adams played 129.1 innings in left but was worth minus-5 defensive runs saved in that short stretch.

Adams could play a part with the Braves in 2018 but if the team is satisfied that Freeman’s wrist is fine going forward, then it seems the most logical move would be a trade.

Mike Foltynewicz (2.163) – $2.7MM

Foltynewicz will be interesting given that he is entering arbitration for the first time after an up-and-down season. He is just 26 years old and Atlanta could explore trying to lock him up long term in an effort to buy out his arbitration years.

However, they might be better served to wait another year to see if he can add some consistency. Of course, that plan runs the risk of a higher price tag next offseason.

Arodys Vizcaino (4.168) – $3.7MM

The Braves will be looking to upgrade their bullpen this offseason but Vizcaino appears to a lock to return, barring a trade.

(Ivan’s note: While something approaching $4 million is a bit of a steep price for a single relief roster spot if the Braves are not going to try and compete in 2018, the Braves should be able to transform it into a good return should they be interested in doing so.)

Sam Freeman (3.067) – $1.2MM

Same as Vizcaino above. Atlanta’s bullpen was pretty much a disaster in 2017 but Freeman’s emergence was one of the bright spots.

Daniel Winkler (3.000) – $800K

Winkler is an interesting case for Atlanta. He has been a part of the Braves now for three seasons but has appeared in just 21 games for the Braves due to injury. Yet here he is, arbitration eligible after just 18.1 innings.

When healthy, Winkler has pitched well. He put up a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings after coming off the disabled list in 2017. Atlanta has invested a lot of time in Winkler to cut bait now. Still with the likelihood that they will look for bullpen arms in free agency combined with several options pushing their way towards the majors, the bullpen could get a bit crowded.

Jace Peterson (3.024) – $1.1MM

Peterson never developed into an everyday player but his versatility gives him some value. He performed better as a reserve and was serviceable defensively in both the infield and the outfield. It remains to be seen what other moves the Braves make this offseason and what effect they will have on the bench. Peterson’s status could change but he looks like he would be ahead of Danny Santana in this pecking order.

(Ivan’s note: I would guess that Peterson is non-tendered rather than receiving a contract that wll pay him around $1 million, but who knows.)

Danny Santana (3.111) – $1.1MM

The Braves picked up Santana in a trade with the Twins in early May. He played primarily as a reserve outfielder and despite one unsustainable hot streak in June, didn’t regain his stroke at the plate. In this author’s opinion, Santana is the most likely player on this list to be non-tendered.

(Ivan’s note: See the note on Jace Peterson. I would guess Santana is even more likely to get non-tendered.)