Atlanta Braves

Biggest Winners and Losers from Atlanta Braves' Offseason

Daniel KockContributor IIIJanuary 20, 2014

Biggest Winners and Losers from Atlanta Braves' Offseason

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    Dave Tulis/Associated Press

    The offseason is hitting the home stretch as pitchers and catchers report in 24 days for the Atlanta Braves.

    The Braves still have some salaries to get worked out as Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel could not agree to deals.

    This will likely go to an arbitration hearing which will take place some point between Feb. 1-21.

    Those players could become winners or losers depending on the results of their arbitration hearings.

    As we wait to find out the results of those hearings, let's take a look at some of the other biggest winners and losers of the offseason for the Atlanta Braves.

Winner: Evan Gattis

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    At this time last year, Evan Gattis didn't know if he'd be on the Atlanta Braves' Opening Day roster.

    Now, the 27-year-old is poised to take on the starting catcher role.

    It came as no surprise that longtime starter Brian McCann left in free agency this offseason to open the door for Gattis.

    At the plate, Gattis will look to build on his rookie 2013 season in which he hit .243 with 21 home runs and 65 RBI in 105 games.

    The Braves love his run-producing potential as a full-time starter and expect to see a spike in home runs and RBI.

    Behind the plate, Gattis still has veteran Gerald Laird in the clubhouse to help him develop his defensive skills and ability to call a game.

    Gattis finds himself in a great position as spring training approaches.

     

     

Loser: Christian Bethancourt

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    The other candidate to take over for McCann as the full-time starter was top prospect Christian Bethancourt.

    However, with the Braves' acquisition of Ryan Doumit, this all but assures Bethancourt will begin the season in the minors.

    The scouting report remains the same on the 22-year-old. He is elite in the field but needs to develop at the plate.

    Bethancourt showed some strides in 2013 as he hit .277 with a .305 OBP in 90 games for Double-A Mississippi.

    He will have his chance to impress coaches this spring training and show continued development in Triple-A from an offensive standpoint.

    From a long-term perspective, another year in the minors may not be a bad thing for the young catcher, but I'm sure he's still disappointed to not be an MLB starter just yet.

Winner: Mike Minor

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Mike Minor has enjoyed a beneficial offseason.

    The 26-year-old avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.85 million. That's a nice bump from the $505,000 he earned in 2013.

    Not only did Minor receive a nice financial upgrade, he looks to play a prominent role on the starting rotation this season.

    With the loss of Tim Hudson, the Braves are looking for someone to step up as a front-line starter for the foreseeable future.

    Minor has a chance to be that guy, as he's been consistently good since the second half of the 2012 season.

    He will look to build on his 2013 season in which he posted career bests in wins (13), ERA (3.21), strikeouts (181) and innings pitched (204.2).

    He has a chance to make a name for himself as one of the top left-handed pitchers in the National League in 2014.

Loser: Dan Uggla

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    Dan Uggla remains with the Atlanta Braves, and it appears more and more likely it will remain that way.

    While some may argue that makes him a winner this offseason, I don't see it that way.

    I think Uggla could have benefited from a change of scenery after the embarrassment of being left off the postseason roster.

    Uggla has undoubtedly heard the trade rumors and disgust of the fanbase after struggling mightily in 2013.

    You have to wonder how much that will affect him in 2014.

    I believe Uggla could have rejuvenated his career as Nate McLouth has done after leaving Atlanta.

    It's hard to imagine Uggla turning it around in a place where so many people have lost confidence in him.

     

Winner: Kris Medlen

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    Another pitcher who recently cashed in on a nice deal is Kris Medlen.

    Medlen will see his salary jump from $2.6 million to $5.8 million after he and the Braves avoided arbitration with a one-year agreement on Friday.

    The 28-year-old right-hander now takes over as the veteran of the rotation with the loss of Hudson.

    Medlen will be a prime candidate to start Opening Day as the veteran of the staff.

    He's also posted the second-best ERA (2.47) in the National League to Clayton Kershaw since July 31, 2012.

    The talk of Medlen moving to the bullpen should finally be put to rest after the events of this offseason, making Medlen a big winner.

     

Loser: Tommy La Stella

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    As the 2013 season concluded, I thought the Braves would move Uggla in order to make room for Tommy La Stella to become the starter.

    The inability to trade Uggla will likely block La Stella from starting the season in Atlanta.

    La Stella has been impressive in his three seasons in the minors.

    You can check out his stats here, paying special attention to his impressive OBP, OPS and strikeout-to-walk ratio in all three seasons.

    The 24-year-old will still get a chance to make his mark during spring training, but the fact that there's no opening on the roster for him makes it a disappointing offseason for him.

Winner: Alex Wood

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Alex Wood impressed coaches last year in spring training, which helped propel him to the MLB level on May 30.

    Wood pitched extremely well (3-3, 3.13 ERA) considering it was his rookie season and the lack of continuity in his role.

    The 23-year-old started in the bullpen before moving to the rotation from mid-June to mid-September, only to return to the bullpen to finish the season and postseason.

    What makes Wood a winner this offseason?

    He looks like the early favorite to start the season as the No. 5 starter in the rotation after Hudson's departure in free agency.

    Things could get interesting when Gavin Floyd returns, but for now, Wood looks like a winner this offseason.

     

Loser: Eric O'Flaherty

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    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Eric O'Flaherty remains a free agent and an offseason loser to this point.

    The 28-year-old has undoubtedly been hurt by the arm injury that forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery this past season.

    Teams have likely been unwilling to commit to O'Flaherty for multiple years. His production (1.99 ERA) during his five years in Atlanta would warrant a multi-year deal, but the unknown factor of returning from serious arm injury has hurt O'Flaherty in negotiaions.

    He will likely get a one-year deal with the chance to prove he's healthy in 2014.

    We will see how the negotiations look in the end, but it looks like O'Flaherty will be a loser this offseason.

Winner: Chris Johnson

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Chris Johnson exceeded expectations in his first season in Atlanta by finishing second in the National League with a .321 batting average.

    Johnson was rewarded for his productive 2013 season, as he and the Braves agreed to a one-year deal.

    The deal is worth $4.75 million, a nice increase from the $2.29 million he made last season.

    Johnson also doesn't have to begin the year in a platoon situation as he did a year ago. The Braves eventually went with Johnson as the full-time starter, and Johnson will enjoy an entire season as the starter in 2014 (if healthy).

    The only time Johnson will relinquish the third base position could be to Ramiro Pena for defensive purposes in end-of-game situations.

    A nice pay raise and a full-time starting spot makes it a successful offseason for Johnson.

     

Loser: B.J. Upton

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The acquisition of Ryan Doumit seemingly came out of nowhere.

    The Braves were looking to upgrade their bench and did so by acquiring the catcher/outfielder from the Minnesota Twins.

    This trade tells me the Braves want to have Gattis available to pinch hit when he isn't the starting catcher, and they are still unsure of what to expect from B.J. Upton.

    Doumit, Gattis and Jordan Schafer give the Braves multiple options in the outfield.

    Once again, I envision Upton's playing time being cut into by these three outfielders.

    It's still Upton's job to lose, but the acquisition of Doumit gives manager Fredi Gonzalez multiple options in the event he struggles again in 2014.

     

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