If there’s such a thing as an ‘Apology Contract’, then that might very well be what the Braves just gave to Jonny Venters.
Friday afternoon marked the deadline for teams to declare their intention to offer contracts to their controllable players (chiefly the arbitration-eligible players). The Atlanta Braves had a couple of players still in some doubt as to their status yesterday.
One player whose doubt was removed quickly was reliever Jonny Venters. In this, his finally final year of arbitration, the fine folks over at MLB Trade Rumors who model these things had projected that Venters would be looking at something in the immediate neighborhood of $1.5 million.
Now Venters has, of course, been on a tortuous path during his major league career. His first arb-eligible year actually came back in 2013, and an agreement was reached that paid him $1.625 million.
Unfortunately, Venters couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain as he ended up having one of his Tommy John surgeries (very) early on that year.
You could argue that this came due to a heavy load of innings in 2010-2011 (171 with 164 appearances… a major league leading 85 in 2011).
Nonetheless, the Braves opted to make the same offer after the 2013 season in the hopes that their All-Star reliever would be able to return in 2014. That… didn’t happen for a while.
So here in 2018, Venters came back… on a minor league deal that probably only paid him the pro-rated major league minimum once he was finally recalled, then traded back to where it all started in Atlanta.
On Friday, the Braves did him a solid:
Mind you, this wasn’t done lightly. Atlanta didn’t have to boost his ‘expected’ payday by 50%. In fact, you might even hear of a bit of private grumbling that they did, for arbitration numbers are collected and analyzed and tabulated and averaged… and they all contribute to the databases that these projections come out of.
In short, because the Braves opted to pay him more, others will have the opportunity to point to that number in the future and say “me too!”.
But this is a special situation… Venters was already well belowthe place that he might have been at had he remained healthy, both in career stature and in earning potential. That fact wasn’t lost on the team today, and they decided to honor his efforts to get back to the mound.
So of course he ‘agreed to avoid arbitration’ on Friday. When presented with the contract offer, his agent likely only had to say “find a pen!”
Maybe I’m making a bit too much of this, but it does really appear to be a nice gesture – and well earned by a player we fans applaud.
Congratulations Jonny V… and once again: Welcome Back!
Here’s the Rest
That’s the word: all arbitration-eligibles are to be offered contracts… no exclusions.
At least “not yet”. There are some strings attached, as O’Brien succinctly explains.
In other words – the Braves are hedging a bet. If they can’t get another suitable corner outfielder, then they still have Adam Duvall (who still has a realistic chance to make the team if his bat shows up).
Duvall in particular is projected for a $3.1 million salary in 2019… that after getting $645,000 as a pre-arb player in 2018. I do think he will have to show a lot this Spring to earn that, but it appears he may have a chance to do so.
Of note from elsewhere
Other teams chose different paths for themselves:
At $4.6 million in 2018 and potentially $5.9 million in 2019, the speedy Hamilton has simply never been able to blossom into the player Cincinnati had hoped… primarily because he couldn’t get on base enough for his legs to matter enough.
Even with the option to ‘wait and see’, the Reds decided they had seen enough to guess that little would change.
Then there’s one more name of note that’s simply sad to see:
It’s Shelby Miller: the former Brave who simply could not stay healthy at all for the DBacks, logging 139 innings for them over 3 seasons with an average ERA of 6.36.
At this point, the 28-year-old Miller – like Hamilton – is now a free agent, but he’s going to have to fully rehab himself before getting another shot – which he will likely get from somebody.
His 3.02 ERA for the Braves in 2015 will probably ensure that.