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Braves agree to terms with all arbitration-eligible players but Mike Foltynewicz

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All arbitration-eligible players other than Mike Foltynewicz agreed to terms on one-year deals, and the Braves aren’t too far apart with Folty, either.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

As you may already know, today was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible figures to exchange salary figures for the upcoming 2018 season. While the date is not a hard cutoff by any stretch, it has grown in significance in recent years as most teams in MLB have shifted to “file-and-trial,” which basically means that they won’t discuss or attempt to agree on terms for a one-year deal after this deadline and prior to the arbitration hearing itself.

After making some roster cuts in advance of the non-tender deadline earlier this offseason, the Braves proceeded with five arbitration-eligible players on their roster:

  • Chase Whitley (acquired from the Rays) - eligible for arbitration for the first time (Arb1);
  • Sam Freeman (Arb1);
  • Daniel Winkler (Arb1);
  • Arodys Vizcaino (Arb3 of four total years given his status as a Super Two player); and
  • Mike Foltynewicz (Arb1, Super Two player).

As of today’s deadline, the Braves have managed to agree to terms for the 2018 season with all of the players above but Mike Foltynewicz.

Chase Whitley agreed to a $800,000 split contract on December 1, 2017, which is when they acquired him off of waivers from Tampa Bay. Whitley will make a pro-rated portion of $800,000 while in the majors, while earning a pro-rated $375,000 when on a minor league roster. MLB Trade Rumors had projected Whitley for a $1,000,000 arbitration salary in 2018.

Sam Freeman agreed to terms yesterday, signing a $1,075,000 contract for 2018. MLBTR had projected him for a contract value of $1.2 million.

Earlier today, ahead of the deadline, the Braves also came to an agreement with Daniel Winkler, who signed for $610,000. The oft-injured Winkler enters some strange territory as a player receiving an arbitration-caliber salary while still being subject to Rule 5 restrictions. MLBTR’s projection for Winkler’s salary was $800,000.

Arodys Vizcaino also signed ahead of the deadline for $3,400,000. As you can probably guess given the above, this too comes in below the MLBTR projection of $3,700,000.

Not coming to an agreement ahead of today’s deadline was Mike Foltynewicz. MLBTR projected Foltynewicz for a $2.7 million salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility, but it looks like he’ll potentially be receiving somewhat less:

If this seems weirdly trivial to you, you’re kind of right: while a number of players are not very far apart, the majority of the players who have yet to agree to terms are somewhere around $500,000 apart from their teams in terms of estimates — the $100,000 difference is a razor thin margin and it’s somewhat surprising that the Braves and Folty’s representation were unable to come to an agreement in time.

While there’s no rule that states that the Braves are unable to sign Foltynewicz — teams can still negotiate with and sign players at any time prior to the hearing — the Braves may continue their “file and trial” ways (Alex Anthopoulos operated this way in Toronto and as part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office) and therefore not negotiate at all, leading to a hearing where the arbitrator has to rule in favor of either the Braves and their $2.2 million estimate, or Foltynewicz and his slightly higher estimate. (The arbitrator must pick one or the other, and cannot pull a King Solomon and split the difference.)

If the Braves do head into an arbitration hearing with Foltynewicz, it will be only their third in the new millennium: they were $500,000 apart with Mike Minor’s representation prior to the 2015 season and lost that case; prior to that, their last arbitration case was in 2001, when Andruw Jones secured a then-record arbitration salary of $8.2 million by winning his case. (The Braves were only offering $6.4 million to Jones at the time, so his representation secured him a substantial raise.)

Given the slim margin by which the Braves and Foltynewicz differed on their salary demands for 2018, and the potential for the Braves to continue their file-and-trial ways, this situation does slightly increase the chance for a multiyear extension for Foltynewicz. This would allow both sides to avoid a potentially-acrimonious hearing while also maintaining adherence to the file-and-trial policy, as that protocol is generally not applied to discussions of multiyear extensions.