The Braves declined starter Julio Teheran’s $12 million club option Monday, meaning their long-time rotation staple is a free agent.
Teheran received a $1 million buyout. The decision doesn’t preclude the Braves from re-signing Teheran. They just opted against paying the right-hander $12 million as free agency opens.
Teheran, who’s started the last six opening days for the Braves, has been with the big-league club since 2011 when he debuted as a 20-year old. He was a consensus top-five prospect in baseball at the time.
While the rebuilding Braves were churning players in-and-out quicker than a fast-food chain, Teheran stood alongside Freddie Freeman through the dark days. The team entertained trading him in the past but for a variety of reasons never pulled the trigger.
Teheran, a two-time All-Star, had an odd 2019 in which his surface production exceeded the advanced numbers. He produced a 3.81 ERA, covering 174-2/3 innings in 33 starts. It was his seventh consecutive season making 30 or more starts.
But for the second year in a row, the Braves didn’t feel Teheran would aid their postseason chances. He was left off the National League Division Series roster before being added due to Chris Martin’s injury. He allowed the game-ending run in Game 4.
In 2018, the Braves didn’t start Teheran against the Dodgers in the NLDS. He came out of the bullpen in Game 4, pitching in mop-up duty as the Braves were eliminated. The game left many assuming it was the end of Teheran in Atlanta.
The Braves valued Teheran’s innings, especially with young, unproven starters around him. They not only kept Teheran but started him opening day in Philadelphia after Mike Foltynewicz was injured. Teheran stayed in the rotation through the season.
Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz comprise the Braves’ current rotation. Veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel is unlikely to be re-signed. The team also has youngsters Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint and Kyle Wright, each of whom failed to cement themselves in 2019.
Teheran should generate interest as an innings eater. The 28-year-old has covered more than 174 frames in each of his seven full major-league seasons.
The Braves will need a player in that mold, be it Teheran or otherwise, at the back end of their rotation. Losing Keuchel and Teheran, a definite possibility, removes two steady presences in the starting five.
The Braves re-signed outfielder Nick Markakis and catcher Tyler Flowers earlier in the day, declining their club options but signing them to new deals that compensated them the same. They declined a $7.5 million option on speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton. They tendered a qualifying offer to third baseman Josh Donaldson.
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