Braves decline tenders to Medlen, Beachy
Schlosser also not offered deal; Minor, Carpenter and Russell tendered
ATLANTA -- Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy remain determined that they can beat the odds and prove successful as they both attempt to return from a second Tommy John elbow surgery. But they now must decide whether they want to make that return with the Braves.
With uncertainty surrounding the futures of Medlen and Beachy, the Braves opted to non-tender both pitchers and Minor League hurler Gus Schlosser on Tuesday. Atlanta's only other three arbitration-eligible players -- Mike Minor, David Carpenter and James Russell -- were all tendered contracts, which simply positions them to gain their 2015 salary through the arbitration process.
Had the Braves tendered Medlen and Beachy contracts, they would have had to offer them a salary that was at least 80 percent of the figure they made in 2014. That would have equated to $4.64 million for Medlen and $1.16 million for Beachy.
Given that they do not know when Medlen and Beachy might pitch again or how effective they might be, the Braves really had no option but to non-tender these two pitchers, both of whom underwent their latest Tommy John surgery in March.
Though Medlen and Beachy are now free to seek employment from any Major League club, the Braves plan to continue discuss bringing both back with low-risk, incentive-laden deals. For example, they have discussed the possibility of a one-year deal that includes an option that would vest if they provide indication they could prove dependable in 2016.
But the likelihood of Medlen returning currently seems remote. He already declined an offer from the Braves that would have guaranteed him $5.8 million (his 2014 salary) in 2015 and a significantly less figure in 2016. The Braves viewed this as a risky offer that would have at least provided Medlen a nice payday in the event that his return attempt is unsuccessful.
While a handful of relievers have had some success after coming back from a second Tommy John surgery, Chris Capuano stands as one of the few starters who have had some extended success. Capuano missed the 2008 and '09 seasons and then made 24 appearances (nine starts) for the Brewers in '10. He then combined to make 84 starts over the next three seasons.
The Braves have said they would likely initially use Medlen and Beachy as relievers next year. However, there is not a clear timetable for their return. Optimistic projections have targeted late May, but others have suggested they might not return before August.
Beachy's elbow has proven to be a problem since he posted a 3.68 ERA in 25 starts during the 2011 season. The 28-year-old right-hander has totaled 18 starts over the past three seasons and 13 of those were completed before his first Tommy John surgery on June 21, 2012.
Medlen missed almost all of the 2011 season while recovering from the initial Tommy John surgery he underwent during the second half of the '10 campaign. He proved to be one of Major League Baseball's top pitchers after he became a full-time starter late in the '12 season and then continued to be a reliable rotation member in '13.
Clayton Kershaw and Medlen were the only Major League pitchers to compile a sub-2.50 ERA while making at least 40 starts from July 31, 2012 through the end of the 2013 season.
Minor, who has posted a 3.51 ERA over his past 72 starts, is expected to receive slightly more than $5 million through arbitration. Carpenter, who has shown the capability of being an effective setup man, will likely garner a salary just north of $1 million as a first-year, arbitration-eligible player.
Russell has been projected to receive just north of $2 million during what will be his final arbitration-eligible season. The veteran lefty was certainly worthy of this value when he limited left-handed hitters to a .183 batting average and a .221 on-base percentage in 2013. But while pitching for the Cubs and Braves this past season, he allowed left-handers to bat .284 and get on base at a .351 clip against him.
The Braves have discussed the possibility of giving Russell a chance to spend at least the first few weeks of Spring Training stretching out as a starter. He surrendered just two hits over four scoreless innings when forced to make an emergency start during this year's regular-season finale in Philadelphia.
Schlosser made the Opening Day roster this year, but he did not impress in multiple stints with Atlanta throughout the season. By releasing him, the Braves whittled their 40-man roster down to 37 players, allowing for some flexibility that could prove beneficial as they navigate the trade and free-agent markets.