Over the last two weeks, the Braves have been hard at work, locking up their core for the foreseeable future. They signed first baseman Freddie Freeman for $135 million over eight years, outfielder Jason Heyward for $13.3 million over the next two years, starter Julio Teheran for $32.4 million over six years, and earlier today inked closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year, $42 million deal. Next up on the list? Shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Simmons, 24, will be eligible for arbitration starting in 2016 and can become a free agent after the 2018 season. The Braves are perfectly aware of the value Simmons brings defensively, but as Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the two sides don’t see eye-to-eye on Simmons’ offensive ability going forward. Thus, extension talks — which aren’t expected to begin in the immediate future — will focus on Simmons’ ability to consistently make hard contact.
Simmons hit six home runs in 1,042 plate appearances in the minors, and three in 182 PA with the Braves in 2012. To the shock of many in the baseball world, he broke out with 17 homers last season. Unfortunately, that was the extent of his offensive contributions. He hit .247 and posted a .296 on-base percentage.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).