Hmmm….

Braves decline arbitration offer to LaRoche  | ajc.com

So, right now the Braves’ depth chart at first base on the official site looks like this:

B. Canizares
M. Prado
O. Infante

I have to think that this will change at some point… I will brood and write a “Where Do We Go From Here” post at some point, but they pretty much have to make a move for a first baseman or — okay, I’ll say it — a third baseman with Chipper playing first.

They did offer Gonzalez and Soriano. Here’s the PR. Best of all — no more ACHE.

64 thoughts on “Hmmm….”

  1. I don’t see the down side to offering arb to LaRoche (UNLESS they have a deal in their pocket, which I very much doubt).

    Would he REALLY have a shot at more than 9 a year? do they really think they can get somebody comparable for less? Do they really want somebody FA on multiple years blocking Freeman? Can they possibly think Freeman is ready?

    I am reminded of the end of the “Bridge Over the River Kwai”

    Madness. Madness.

    If there was somebody to worry about it was Soriano. You can get somebody better for less than his projected arb salary, but you would have to guarantee more years.

    Why isn’t there a source with the info on arb offers readily available? You would think that would be easy to post. NeitherESPn nor Fox have it.

  2. cliff, I agree with you about LaRoche. Puzzling.

    As for the arb stuff, check MLBTR. According to my Twitter feed, they’ve been updating all day.

  3. Mac,

    In the last few days (I think it was Bowman) sombody posted something where Chipper said he would move to first if they had sombody legitimate ML 3rd baseman ready to sign. Seemed odd in light of Chipper’s other quotes on the subject. Any insight or thoughts?

    IF Chipper would move to first, maybe that is the move. Tejada or Beltre or somebody for 3rd, move Chipper to first. That could explain non tendering LaRoche.

  4. I, too, think maybe it means we’re about to re-sign him. Otherwise it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

  5. I’m not surprised they didn’t offer ‘Rochey arbitration. That would’ve locked them in to him at 1B, and while there’s certainly some risk, I think the Braves wanted to leave their options open in case a trade or something became available.

    Possibly troubling (and partially exciting) is that both Soriano and Gonzo getting offered arbitration. If both of these guys stay, that’ll be a huge pair of paychecks to cut to relievers, and I’ve got to figure at least one would be traded at some point. (you can do that, right? Offer a player arbitration, they accept, and you trade them?) I think Soriano is particularly likely to accept arbitration unless there’s potentially big money available from someone like the Yankees.

    Still, the prospect of getting two sandwich picks plus late 1st- or 2nd-rounders is exciting. Both of these guys are quite high on the “ranking” of FAs, so it’s unlikely the Braves will have to take a 3rd- or 4th-round pick for compensation if they decline. Getting other people’s draft picks for your relievers is a great way to re-stock a farm system. :-)

  6. Oh man, Chip Caray resigned from TBS, and it looks like he wants to be the Braves’ everyday announcer? let’s hope/pray that doesn’t happen

  7. This is what I like to read:

    Those hoping the action we’ll pick up, sounds like you’re about to get your wish. When I asked Wren whether the Braves were ready to make some offers now or if he thought they’d wait till they get to Winter Meetings, he said: “We’re prepared. Prior to Indianapolis, we’d like to be aggressive on some things.”

    mraver,
    They wouldn’t necessarily be locking themselves in with LaRoche. He seems likely to command a multi-year deal somewhere.

  8. Don’t know their strategy, but losing LaRoche is a baaaaad idea.

    Unless Stu can convince Albert to head to Turner Field.

  9. They must have been worried about what LaRoche would command in arb. Maybe, the collective price tag if all three players accepted.

    Nonetheless, I am glad they offered to Sori and Gonzo. I actually think they will sign one of them.

  10. I guess they have their reasons for not offering LaRoche arbitration. I’m just happy Soriano and Gonzalez were both offered arbitration. Virtually guarantees 2 top-40 picks and 2 more, possibly even higher.

  11. About LaRoche… odd at first glance, yes. Gonna have to wait & see on this one.

    FWIW, I have heard about Yankee interest in both relievers. Why? The talk is that both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes will start next season in the rotation.

    Of course, it’s not like the Yanks have a record of great success in overspending on Braves bullpenners—Karsay, Hammond, Farnsworth…

  12. Farnsworth was a class act.

    Wait, did I say “class act?” What I meant to say was “ass hat.”

  13. My two cents on LaRoche not being offered arbitration:

    I think it’s obvious to all of us that there’s a 99.9% chance that Heyward will play in Atlanta next year. At this point, it’s a matter of will he start the season or get called up halway through. With Diaz, McLouth, and possibly Church/Infante, that’s plenty of folk out there. I think Wren realizes that if he wants to get that clean-up hitter he’s reportedly after, it’s not going to be an outfielder. LaRoche, while a great contact hitter with some great power, is definitely not a clean-up hitter.

    Under normal circumstances, I would say offering LaRoche arbitration is a no-brainer, but with Heyward in the wings, I think Wren might be focused on getting a big bat at 1B (OR moving Chipper to first and getting a big bat for 3B). Fingers crossed.

  14. @15 and 9

    I think I agree. Would not surprise me if Wren came out blazing during the Winter meetings. I think with LaRoche, he’s hedging his bets. There are a lot of options available with 1st basemen and I think its a lot more conceivable that LaRoche accepts arbitration than Soriano or Gonzo do. If Wren plans to stretch payroll to the limit, throwing a 10 MM LaRoche into the mix could really screw things up…and the potential of a single supplemental pick isn’t worth it.

  15. So, would an offseason netting Nick Johnson and Xavier Nady (neither was offered arbitration) and at least one “closer” (Whether it be one of our two, Wagner, or even Saito) be a success?

    Along with the Panamaniac, of course.

  16. The Brewers didn’t offer arbitration to Mike Cameron, and I’m hoping the Braves try to sign him – above average centerfield defense and 20 homers, at maybe $5-9 million per year for 1 or 2 years . They can shift McLouth to left or right and wait on Heyward to fill the other corner. That would be a serious upgrade, I think.

  17. Given the drastic pay cuts Burrell, Abreu, and Dunn had to sign for last year, I can understand the teams wariness of arb for a 1B.

  18. @21

    I’ll freely admit my knowledge of SEC football is lacking, but since the national semifinal is this weekend, I’m interested. I see he leads the team in sacks and I remember him being the MVP of the title game last year, but can Florida plug another another stud in, or is this this potentially a deal breaker?

    I guess another way to put it is: is this guy so good that will him not playing change the line of the game?

  19. Adam LaRoche is right at his payroll value limit. If he gets a significant bump via arb he’s overpaid. His production level is not the sick Barry Bonds impersonation he did the last three months of 2009. He’s a league average hitter for the position, nothing more, nothing less. That has value, especially for a team that ran Casey Kotchman out there last year. But he’s not the sort of player whose whim should hinge the rest of your off-season on. You don’t tie up your payroll on Adam LaRoche.

  20. @17 Ethan I think that you have hit the nail. The Braves are fairly confident that neither Soriano nor Gonzalez will go to arb. But they weren’t so certain about LaRoche given his close friendship with Chipper and I am guessing the relative lack of overt interest in him by other teams.

    My fearless prediction from a while back was that we’d end up with either a reclamation project like Nady or Beltre or go for guys like Cameron or DeRosa who aren’t impact bats but contribute in other ways besides hitting.

    We won’t get the Panamaniac because the Padres, realizing what an important asset he is will demand Hanson and Jurjjens. Remember he is what Chone Figgens was years ago.

    BTW where is Coachfly these days? Did all you meanies run him off?

  21. I have a feeling that if he doesn’t sign a multiyear contract this year, LaRoche won’t play successive years with the same franchise again. He’s that kind of player — the kind you sign for one year, and don’t offer arbitration.

    Coach left because I told him he wasn’t allowed to insult people anymore.

  22. I was randomly browsing through the b-r leaderboards when I noticed something today. Javier Vazquez is basically a lock for 3000 strikeouts. He’s at 2253 and 5 years of 150 strikeouts gets him there.

    Does anybody think he gets any HoF considerations if he ends up with 3000+ Ks, but nowhere close to 300 wins, and a fairly pedestrian ERA+? I don’t think he does which is strange seeing how everyone else with 3000+ is going to end up in the HoF.

  23. Let Laroche Walk. Then trade for him on June 20th when he’s hitting .195 with 7 home runs, and have him hit .322 with 24 dingers the rest of the way.

    Hey, that’s pretty much what happened this year.

  24. maybe Wren has an Abreu 2010 up his sleeves for 1B and RF, if not, Im surprised with the Laroche thing

  25. 28,
    For Javy to get into the HoF, he needs to have about 5-6 more great seasons. He’s had 3 sort of hard-luck Cy-Young type seasons, 2001, 2003, and 2009. Other than that, he’s got a 3.48 career K/BB, the strikeouts you mentioned, his 1-vote Cy Young finish, an all-star selection, led the league in shutouts once, has a career 142-139 record, and has a career 107 ERA+. A very forgettable resume. If 2009 happens again for the next 5 years for Javy, we can start discussing his HOF candidacy. Until then, he doesn’t make it onto the 2nd ballot.

  26. Random thoughts:

    I was thinking with Javy: unless we extend him to a Hudson type deal this offseason, we’re really in an awkward spot with him going forward. Either he’s really good and we won’t be able to afford him or he reverts to the mediocre choke artist with excellent stuff and we’re not sure we want him for the price. (especially with a Minor/Medlen in the wings and arbitration coming for JJ and Yunel) And while the answer is probably somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t really solve the quandary.

    In any case, something is going to have to give next offseason. (especially if we stretch out payroll this one) Javy is the currently the only guy (other than Ross) coming off the books and quite a few guys are getting significantly more expensive.

    You would almost think, especially the way this offseason seems to be trending, that Javy HAS to be the odd guy out. Assuming the payroll stays relatively constant, the only way I can see to keep him next year would be to stick with signing guys to a one year deals this winter.

    In that light, maybe Cameron would be the best choice, but, as Mac pointed out, 1st base is again a gaping black hole, and we don’t have a closer (though I guess you could make a case for Moylan).

    Between those four positions, some cost controlled player needs to step up. It does seem to work out fairly well with Freeman, Medlen, Minor, and Heyward being prime candidates, but it should be interesting to see how the dynamic develops.

  27. If Javier doesn’t end up with more strikeouts than Bert Blyleven, he doesn’t have a chance at HOF. Headed for a dang nice career though.

  28. What, exactly, is the reason Blyleven isn’t in the Hall? Did he piss off the media when he was a player or something?

  29. AdLaR: ‘s an odd decision. Maybe they like him enough and are going to re-sign him, or maybe they didn’t want to risk 9 mil against a sandwich pick that he’d sign elsewhere and limit what they can do in the ‘pen or OF. Or maybe Chipper’s really going to move? Thing that makes the most sense, though, is that they had to make a decision and fish with it. They can be reasonably sure that Gonzalez and Soriano will get taken. Sure, might be by one of the same teams that buys up the guys ranked ahead of him so maybe we only get a sandwich and a 2R. But by deciding now that LaRoche isn’t on their books and won’t be, they can start making hard plans and commitments immediately.

    Maybe they don’t want to blow the budget this year, save some for next (makes sense; I’d want to, I think).

    Buster Olney included a blurb today that DeRosa was approached by an NL East team about playing OF full time. If that’s us, that’s a lot of flexible players, between Prado, Infante, DeRosa, Diaz, Church and KJ (if they’re still around).

    Mac: Where do we go from here?

  30. Are Soriano and Gonzo really going to make that much more than what we’re supposedly giving Wagner? Maybe it’s a years thing. This seems a bit odd, either way.

  31. I forgot the guy was 38, but I like this if it’s true (Furcal Rule in effect of course). He’s been quoted by the NY newspapers saying that he wants to end his career with 420 saves and a World Series ring. I think he’ll be a real bulldog, which is always nice to see in a pitcher…especially now that Smoltz is gone.

  32. Yeah because other pitchers only kind of sort of want to win, so it’s really important to have on that really wants to win.

  33. I guess that’s the reason no arbitration for LaRoche: the Braves had that money earmarked towards Wagner.

    I like this signing.

  34. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but your comment was pretty stupid.

    I fail to see a big difference between calling a player a “bulldog” or calling him “scrappy”

    Both describe vague intangibles that aren’t really measurable in any real fashion.

  35. I like the idea of signing a lefty closer. It’s a little worrying given the disaster that was 2008 that the Braves (if Wagner is signed) have invested so much money in 2 pitchers who pitched for only a month in 2008, but I guess the Braves did their homework and are confident Hudson and Wagner are healthy.

    I would have liked to see Laroche brought back, but if Wren can find an outfielder and a different first baseman who combined offer more production for close to the same money Laroche will get I could live with that.

    When is the non-tender deadline for players such as Johnson and Church? The 15th?

  36. @45:

    Do you think that every MLB player has the same desire to win and puts forth the same level of effort?

  37. So, what happens if Boston take Gonzo or Soriano? Do we swap 1st round picks? In theory we’re getting two 1st round picks because of Gonzo and Soriano (we won’t bring back Gonzo now right? and Soriano was already priced higher than we wanted to go?), so it shouldn’t matter that we’re giving up one to get Wagner?

  38. so, am i right in assuming the braves payroll, with the wagner signing, sits at apprx. 82-84 million, assuming kj and church are let loose? that seems about right. that still leaves 14-16 mil or so to work with, without trading lowe. troy glaus and xavier nady anyone? lots of flexibility in those 2 signings. lots of risk as well.

    http://tinyurl.com/yz7o2hn

  39. DOB Just tweeted: “B.Wagner en route to ATL for physical, if his flight’s not delayed by this awful weather we’re having today. It’s 1 yr, $7 mill, plus option”

    FWIW.

  40. Wagner deal includes a vesting second year for 6.5 if he finishes 50 games. So, if he’s really healthy, ‘s not a terrible deal. A power lefty with a slider is a weapon against Utley, Howard, Ibanez. Basically getting him for Gonzalez’s arb money (slightly more than; paying a premium, maybe slightly over market, to get the deal done immediately) and a swap of draft picks that we can reasonably expect will still be in the first round, and getting a front sandwich pick in the bargain.

    Should be a fun next couple of weeks; I’m getting a nice decisive, targetted feel from the front office right now.

    @49: Yes, we would swap 1R w/ Sox if they sign either Gonz or Soriano. And we would each get a sandwich pick, with the Braves getting the higher one.

  41. $7M PLUS a first-round pick? Jeebus. Even if it’s a late first rounder, that’s rough.

    Still, Wagner should be good at the back of the ‘pen. Just means we’re screwed if other people don’t sign Gonzo and Soriano. :-)

    Also, re: Carlos Dunlap, I’m glad he’s suspended, and depending on the way things go from here, I wouldn’t mind too much if he didn’t play in any Bowl Game the Gators might make this year.

    As for plugging in a replacement, it sounds like Trattou will get the nod in his place. He’s not the pass rusher that Dunlap is, but he’s a good player. The Gators are extremely deep on the defensive side of the ball, so even though losing Dunlap is going to hurt, it’s not a body blow.

  42. I can’t imagine nobody signing Gonzo or Soriano. I mean, they’re not going to play for the Yakult Swallows.

  43. I also like how there were no serious rumors leaked beforehand. Wren is finally learning how to operate silently

  44. I like the Wagner signing because the commitment is short. Supposedly there is a vesting option for $6.5M in 2011 if Wagner finishes 50 games.

    Now, do we re-sign LaRoche or one of the relievers?

    I thought Soriano was gone, but does it make sense to have two lefties at the back of your pen? I think not. Probably both relievers are gone and the Braves end up with extra picks in a deep draft.

  45. @ 45

    There’s the problem with a lot of advanced metrics enthusiasts (and I am one myself, but some on this board have forgotten more about the subject than I know)…real-world business decisions are almost never made solely on quantitative data. For example, if they were then GM, Ford and Chrysler would have abandoned our shores long ago.

    Intangibles are a pretty weak way to defend a player, but just pointing out that a player has a history of working hard is hardly means to breakout the elitist sarcasm. It’s a online forum, he’s not a national sportswriter, and you’re not Ken Tremendous.

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