Braves re-sign Markakis, Flowers, decline Teheran option
Teheran, the first pitcher to make six straight opening-day starts for Atlanta, also had a club option for 2020. The team turned that down, making the 28-year-old right-hander a free agent after completing a $32.4 million, six-year contract.
"He's been here a long time," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "He's been a big part of the organization."
Atlanta opted against a $12 million option for Teheran in 2020, instead paying a $1 million buyout. The move was not unexpected on the heels of Teheran being left off the postseason roster after going 10-11 with a 3.81 ERA, though he was added back to the squad as an injury replacement when Chris Martin went down in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Teheran wound up taking the loss coming out of the bullpen in Game 4. That forced a deciding game, in which the Braves gave up a record 10 runs in the first inning and ended the season with a 13-1 loss.
Anthopoulos said he'll remain in touch with Teheran's agent and there's still a chance the team could re-sign him at a lower rate. He has been a member of the rotation since 2013, twice winning 14 games and making a pair of All-Star teams.
"We've not closed the door," the GM said in a conference call. "He'll have a chance to test the market and talk other teams. There's an open-ness on both sides to continue the relationship. We'll see where that leads"
The Braves also made a $17.8 million qualifying offer to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, ensuring they'll receiving at least one compensatory draft pick should he sign elsewhere.
Anthopoulos hopes to bring back Donaldson, a former AL MVP who in his first year with the Braves avoided the injuries that have plagued him in recent seasons. He batted .259 with 37 homers and 94 RBIs while making $23 million under a one-year deal.
The new contracts for Markakis and the 33-year-old Flowers were essentially a financial wash. Both players made $4 million this past season and had club options of $6 million for 2020. The team paid a $2 million buyout to each and their new deals ensures both will take home a total of $6 million to remain in Atlanta another season.
In what was essentially an accounting move, the Braves wanted to have both players at reduced salaries on the 2020 payroll.
"We obviously had interest in bringing them back," Anthopoulos said. "It made sense for us to have them back at lower rate."
Markakis, who turns 36 this month, struggled against left-handed pitching and missed about seven weeks with a fractured left wrist. After batting .285 with nine homes and 62 RBIs, he has agreed to take a platoon role in left field, most likely with Adam Duvall.
Duvall, a former All-Star with the Reds, hit 32 homers at Triple-A Gwinnett and added 10 more after being called up by the Braves. He is eligible for arbitration.
"We wanted to make sure we talked that through that with (Markakis), and he's on board," Anthopoulos said. "He expressed that he'll do anything to help the team."
Ender Inciarte could reclaim the center-field job after playing just 65 games because of injuries in 2019, though he might be part of trade talks during the offseason. If Inciarte stays, budding star Ronald Acuña Jr. would likely move over to right field.
The Braves also have Austin Riley, who hit 18 homers as a rookie but tailed off badly over the second half of the season. He played mostly outfield during his first year with the Braves, though his best position is third base. He would likely move back to that spot if Donaldson departs.
Flowers batted .229 with 11 homers and 34 homers while sharing time behind the plate with Brian McCann, who announced his retirement right after the playoff loss.