In order to receive a compensatory draft pick for Alex Gonzalez signing elsewhere the Braves would first have to offer him arbitration, but the team announced today that they’ve decided not to risk the free agent shortstop accepting and locking them into a one-year deal.
That means the Braves pass up the chance for a draft pick and Gonzalez is all but certain to be on another team in 2012, which isn’t a surprise after the 35-year-old hit just .241 with a .270 on-base percentage and .372 slugging percentage in 149 games.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Gonzalez is looking for a two-year contract and it’s tough to blame him after seeing Jamey Carroll, Mark Ellis, and Clint Barmes get two-year deals, but given his age and inept offense a one-year pact (and possibly a part-time role) seems more likely.
Atlanta doesn’t have an obvious in-house replacement unless they choose to rush a prospect, so the Braves figure to be in the market for a veteran shortstop.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.