The Braves agreed to terms with left-hander James Russell on a $2.425 million contract for 2015, leaving lefty Mike Minor as the team’s only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player as of Thursday evening.
Russell was 0-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 66 games (one start) for the Cubs and Braves last season, with 42 strikeouts and a 1.127 WHIP in 57 2/3 innings. He had a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 innings over 22 games for the Braves after coming over in a July 31 trade-deadline deal, and limited the Cubs to two hits in four scoreless innings in an emergency start in the season finale at Chicago when Alex Wood was scratched.
That was only the sixth career start in five major league seasons for Russell and his first since 2011, but the Braves plan to let him compete with a handful of other pitchers for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring. This is the third year of arbitration eligibility for Russell, who’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
If Minor and the Braves don’t reach an agreement they would swap salary figures Friday, and an arbitration panel next month would select one of the figures as his salary. Minor made $3.85 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility and had a career-worst 6-12 record and 4.77 ERA in 25 starts after missing much of spring training with shoulder tendinitis that landed him on the disabled list to open the season and bothered him at times afterward.
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