Braves Avoid Arbitration With Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Chris Johnson, and Jordan Schafer

Team Looks To Settle Next With Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward

Friday, January 17, 2014
Chris Medlen
Chris Medlen
- photo by Tim Evearitt

ATLANTA -- Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward are set to receive significant raises. But each of these players might first have to experience a salary arbitration hearing to learn exactly what the Braves will be paying them during the upcoming season.

The Braves agreed to terms on one-year deals with Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Chris Johnson and Jordan Schafer before having to exchange salary arbitration figures on Friday afternoon. But they were not able to reach agreements with Kimbrel, Freeman and Heyward, who stood as their only other unsigned arbitration-eligible players.

While the Braves are permitted to continue negotiating with each of their three unsigned arbitration-eligible players, there is a strong possibility that they will end up taking each of these players to a salary arbitration hearing that will be held at some point between Feb. 1-21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Over the past few seasons, Atlanta has made it known that it is a "file-and-trial club." This means the team plans to go to a hearing if it does not reach an agreement before the salary figures are exchanged.

The Braves haven't taken a player to a hearing since 2001, when they won their arbitration case against John Rocker. But the club was planning to go through this process with Martin Prado before he was traded to the D-backs last January.

Medlen agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.8 million. The 2.47 ERA he has compiled since July 31, 2012, ranks second only to Clayton Kershaw among all pitchers who have made at least 40 starts during this span. The 27-year-old right-hander made $2.6 million as a first-time arbitration-eligible player this past season.

Minor's salary will rise from $505,000 to $3.85 million. The 26-year-old left-hander notched a career-high 13 wins and exceeded 200 innings for the first time while posting a 3.21 ERA in 32 starts last year.

Johnson, who finished second in the National League with a .321 batting average, agreed to a $4.75 million salary for this upcoming season. The veteran third baseman proved to be quite a value as he made $2.29 million in 2013.

Schafer's one-year deal is worth $1.09 million. The versatile and athletic backup outfielder made $513,000 while hitting .247 with a .677 OPS last year. This was the first time he was eligible for arbitration.

Of the three players who have not yet reached an agreement, Heyward is the only one who is not experiencing the arbitration process for the first time. The 25-year-old outfielder will likely gain a raise of approximately $1 million from his $3.65 million salary.

Kimbrel's first-year arbitration status has drawn comparisons to Jonathan Papelbon, who received a $6.25 million salary when he was arbitration-eligible for the first time with the Red Sox after the 2008 season. Kimbrel's salary is expected to rise from $655,000 to somewhere between $7 million to $7.25 million.

Freeman, who finished fourth in this year's NL Most Valuable Player Award balloting, is expected to see his salary rise from $560,000 to the vicinity of $5 million.

------ Source: MLB.com

Jordan Schafer
Jordan Schafer
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt

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