The Braves lost free agent catcher Brian McCann to the Yankees and they have yet to make any signings this off-season, but they stand to make a ton of news as they make decisions about their many arbitration eligible players. Based on Matt Swartz’s arbitration salary projections at MLB Trade Rumors, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports writes that the Braves’ 13 arbitration-eligible players are projected to earn a total of nearly $37 million in 2014, a salary increase of $22 million over the past season.
Craig Kimbrel is projected to see the biggest jump in salary, going from $655,000 last season to a projected $7.25 million in 2014. Freddie Freeman will see a marked increase as well, moving from $560,000 to a projected $4.9 million. Non-tender candidates include Elliot Johnson, Ramiro Pena, and Paul Janish, but they represent a very insignificant slice of the pie.
After the Braves tender contracts to the crowd, their next big move appears to be moving second baseman Dan Uggla and as much of his remaining $26 million as possible. They could also be in the hunt for a veteran starter to take over for Tim Hudson, who signed with the Giants.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the San Francisco Giants “have keen interest” in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers in 2017. He’s also still owed $86 million through 2022. Which, back when the deal was signed seemed like quite a bargain for the Rays — and likely has been over the duration of the contract — but now seems somewhat steep for the 32 year-old third baseman. That said, the Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base on their depth chart, so Longoria would definitely be an upgrade, even if 2017’s dip wasn’t just a blip.
Nightengale says that for the Giants to take on Longoria, the Rays would have to take on a high salary veteran such as Denard Span or Hunter Pence. Span is owed $9 million in 2018, with a $4 million buyout on a $12 million option for 2019. Pence is owed $18.5 million in 2018 in the final year of his contract and has a full no-trade clause.
If he stays with the Rays, Longoria will achieve 10-5 rights — full no-trade protection due to being a ten-year veteran with five years of service on the same club — so if the Rays are going to move him, it’ll be much easier this offseason, not once the 2018 season begins.