Braves avoid arbitration hearing with seven eligible players, including All-Star Mike Foltynewicz
After going to a hearing with Mike Foltynewicz ahead of his breakout All-Star season, the Braves avoided a repeat with the right-hander, and their other six remaining arbitration-eligible players.
The team announced Friday that it had reached agreements on one-year, non-guaranteed deals ahead of the 1 p.m. ET deadline.
Foltynewicz and the Braves settled at $5.475 million, while they also came to terms with fellow starter Kevin Gausman ($9.35M), reliever Arodys Vizcaino ($4.8M0), outfielder Adam Duvall ($2.875M), relievers Dan Winkler ($1.61M) and Sam Freeman ($1.575M) and utility man Charlie Culberson ($1.395M).
With none of these deals guaranteed, the Braves will still have the option of releasing any of these players during spring training, paying out a prorated portion for the time spent in camp.
Last February, Foltynewicz became just the fifth Braves player since 2001 to go to a hearing — following Andruw Jones, Kevin Millwood and John Rocker in ’01 and Mike Minor in ’15 — going to an arbitrator over $100,000. That was the smallest gap between player and franchise that went to a hearing since 1994 when the Yankees and Kevin Maas were separated by $65,000.
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That’s something Foltynewicz didn’t have to worry about this time around, as he received a hefty face up from $2.2 million as he became a first-time All-Star and had the ninth-best fWAR among all National League starters at 3.9.
Gausman, with a year’s more service time than Foltynewicz (4.151 years to 3.163), had an up-and-down final month of 2018 (4.23 ERA), but still posted a 142 ERA+ over his 10 starts after being acquired from the Orioles in July.
While the other big piece the Braves acquired at the trade deadline, struggled after coming over from the Reds with a minus-5 OPS+ in 33 games, Duvall was still a Gold Glove finalist in left field. As of this writing remains one of the Braves’ only options in a corner outfield spot alongside Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ender Inciarte.
The Braves preference would be to bring in another option before spring training, but Duvall’s past — back-to-back 30-home runs and high-level defense — at least presents the notion hat he could regain his form from Cincinnati.
Culberson was one of the biggest surprises during the Braves’ NL East title run with a 108 wRC+ in 322 plate appearances after never hitting better than 20 percent below league average in his previous five MLB seasons.
Despite the issues plaguing Atlanta’s bullpen in the last month of the season, when only the Marlins and Nationals (both minus-0.8 fWAR) were worst than the Braves, Vizcaino, Winkler and Freeman were some of its key contributors during the year.
Vizcaino, in his final season before hitting free agency, led the team with 16 saves despite spending 55 games on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Meanwhile, Winkler, whose career has been plagued by injuries, threw 60 1 3/ innings and looked like a potential All-Star when he had a 1.80 FIP in May, and Freeman didn’t allow a run in the 10 2/3 innings he threw in his final 14 appearances.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.