By making this one-year, $17.8 million offer to Donaldson, the Braves ensured they will receive a compensatory Draft pick if he were to sign with another team. The former American League MVP Award winner will almost certainly decline this offer and seek something greater than the one-year, $23 million deal he signed with Atlanta last winter.
The Braves will be among the teams attempting to sign Donaldson, who hit 37 homers and ranked 10th in the National League with 4.9 fWAR (FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement model) this past season. There is mutual interest in a reunion and Atlanta has an advantage in that any other club that signs the 33-year-old third baseman would lose a Draft pick.
It was assumed the Braves would extend this qualifying offer and retain Flowers, who is the only Major League ready catcher within the organization. But it wasn’t as clear what they would do with Markakis and Teheran, the veteran right-hander who had been Atlanta’s Opening Day starter each of the past six seasons.
The Braves actually declined the options attached to Flowers, Markakis and Teheran. But while they were able to reach new deals with the first two veterans, they were unable to do so with Teheran, who is now a free agent for the first time since he signed his first professional contract with the Braves in 2007.
Flowers and Markakis both signed a one-year, $4 million deal after their respective $6 million options were declined. The $2 million buyout attached to both options combined with the new salary will provide both of the veterans with what amounts to a $6 million salary. But because these buyouts will be deemed a 2019 payroll expense, the Braves will essentially have an extra $4 million of flexibility with the 2020 payroll.
Flowers hit 11 homers, produced a .733 OPS and continued to rank as one of the game’s best framers this past season. The 33-year-old veteran was charged with a MLB-high 16 passed balls in just 679 innings. But per Statcast, his 13 Runs Extra Strikes tied Yasmani Grandal for the second-best mark among all big league catchers. San Diego’s Austin Hedges ranked first with 20.
The Braves are expected to be among the teams that pursue Grandal, who is the top catcher on the free agent market.
Markakis produced a .776 OPS over 469 plate appearances during a season that was interrupted when he fractured his left wrist on July 26. The veteran outfielder returned in mid-September and produced a .598 OPS through the end of the Braves’ postseason run. He will likely be asked to fill a lesser role next season. He could be used to platoon with Adam Duvall or could become more of a true backup if Atlanta were to acquire another outfielder this winter.
Teheran compiled a 3.81 ERA over 33 starts and produced the NL’s third-worst Fielding Independent Pitching (4.66). The 28-year-old hurler was only added to the NL Division Series roster after reliever Chris Martin suffered an oblique strain in Game 1.
Along with pursuing Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler and other potential frontline starters, the Braves could attempt to fill Teheran’s void by targeting Wade Miley and some of the other next-tier free agents. They also have some internal depth with Kyle Wright and Sean Newcomb, who will be used as a starter during Spring Training.