LAKELAND, Fla. – The Braves agreed to terms on one-year contracts with 20 players not eligible for arbitration including prominent names such as closer Craig Kimbrel, first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons and pitchers Mike Minor, Jordan Walden, Brandon Beachy.
Others on the list were pitchers Cory Gearrin, David Hale, Juan Jaime, Aaron Northcraft, Cory Rasmus, Anthony Varvaro, Luis Avilan; infielders Juan Francisco, Ernesto Mejia, Tyler Pastornicky; outfielders Jose Constanza and Jordan Schafer, and catcher Christian Bethancourt.
Contract terms weren’t disclosed or immediately available, but players who fall short of arbitration eligiblity (generally three years' service time) don't have leverage in negotiations and can be unilaterally renewed by the team if they don't agree to terms.
The major league minimum salary rose from $480,000 to $490,000 this year, and "zero-to-three" (year) players with the Braves and most other teams get only small raises before arbitration, with exceptions made for particularly distinguished performers such as Kimbrel, who saw his salary jump from $419,000 to $590,000 in 2012 after he won the National League Rookie of the Year award.
Walden rests back: After Walden reported some back stiffness in the morning, the Braves scratched him from a scheduled appearance Wednesday in a rain-delayed game against Washington. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said it wasn’t serious and that the reliever might throw a side session to test the back before his next game appearance.
WBC bound: Kimbrel (Team USA) and infielder Ramiro Pena (Mexico) are scheduled to leave came Sunday to join their respective teams for training camp in the Phoenix area prior to their pool-play around of the World Baseball Classic. Both teams are in the four-team Pool D March 8-10 at Chase Field, along with Canada and Italy. Kimbrel has pitched in two games and is scheduled to pitch in two more for the Braves before he leaves.
Simmons left last weekend to join the Netherlands team in Taiwan for its training camp and pool play. A pair of Braves minor leaguers, catcher Matt Kennelly and pitcher Andy Russell, will play for their native Australia in the WBC.
Short hops: The Braves' road game against the Phillies on Thursday (1:05 p.m.) will be shown on MLB Network, the first of 13 Braves spring-training games scheduled to be televised this year. Paul Maholm will face Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels in the game at Clearwater, Fla.... Former Braves reliever Gene Garber is in camp as a guest instructor through March 3, and will be followed by ex-Braves Ralph Garr Sunday through March 11 and Brian Jordan Sunday through March 12.