Braves expected to extend Andrelton Simmons next

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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.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.