Diving into the depths: Atlanta Braves

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Atlanta Braves
Rotation
1. Tim Hudson
2. Jair Jurrjens
3. Derek Lowe
4. Tommy Hanson
5. Kenshin Kawakami
6. Jo-Jo Reyes
7. Kris Medlen
8. James Parr
9. Todd Redmond
10. Kyle Cofield
The Braves had one starter too many before the Javier Vazquez deal, but now they’re lacking in depth in case injuries strike. That will especially be the case if Reyes, who is out of options, fails to make the team this spring. Medlen would do well if needed, but he’ll be awfully valuable in the pen, too, and there’s not anyone trustworthy behind him.
Bullpen
1. Billy Wagner
2. Takashi Saito
3. Peter Moylan
4. Eric O’Flaherty
5. Kris Medlen
6. Jesse Chavez
7. Michael Dunn
8. Manny Acosta
9. Jo-Jo Reyes
10. Luis Valdez
11. Scott Proctor
12. Juan Abreu
13. Craig Kimbrel
14. Stephen Marek
15. Mariano Gomez
The top five are locks and then the next four figure to compete for two spots during spring training. Proctor underwent Tommy John surgery in May, so he’ll be behind at the start of the year. Ideally, Kimbrel would come up and make an impact in the second half.


Catcher
1. Brian McCann
2. David Ross
3. Clint Sammons
First base
1. Troy Glaus
2. Eric Hinske
3. Martin Prado
4. Freddie Freeman
Second base
1. Martin Prado
2. Omar Infante
3. Brooks Conrad
4. Diory Hernandez
5. Joe Thurston
Third base
1. Chipper Jones
2. Omar Infante
3. Brooks Conrad
4. Joe Thurston
5. Eric Hinske
Shortstop
1. Yunel Escobar
2. Diory Hernandez
3. Brooks Conrad
4. Brandon Hicks
I like the Glaus signing for first base, and Hinske is a nice fallback in case he gets hurt. If Glaus does spend some time on the disabled list, what the Braves will likely do is use Hinske against righties and Prado against lefties, with Infante filling in at second base.
Left field
1. Matt Diaz
2. Melky Cabrera
3. Eric Hinske
4. Mitch Jones
5. Gregor Blanco
Center field
1. Nate McLouth
2. Melky Cabrera
3. Jordan Schafer
4. Gregor Blanco
Right field
1. Melky Cabrera
2. Jason Heyward
3. Eric Hinske
4. Mitch Jones
5. Brent Clevlen
The big decision here is whether or not to have Heyward open the season in right field. Ideally, the Braves would be able to send him to Triple-A for two months, just like they did Hanson last season. However, it would leave them without a lot of punch in the outfield. My guess is that they do it anyway, but it will probably come down to how Heyward performs in spring training.

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Duane Burleson/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.