Braves’ off-season will take shape as they make decisions on arbitration-eligible players

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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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.