With a Wednesday deadline looming for teams to offer contracts to their unsigned players, pitcher Mike Minor appears to be the only difficult decision for the Braves among their five arbitration-eligible players.
Minor missed the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury (torn labrum) and had arthroscopic surgery in May. He had to shut down his throwing program in early November and currently is working on range-of-motion and stretching exercises, not throwing.
The Braves’ other arbitration-eligible players included starting pitcher Shelby Miller, projected to get close to $5 million throught arbitration; relievers Arodys Vizcaino and Chris Withrow, and infielder Pedro Ciriaco. Of the latter three, all are first-time arbitration eligible and only Vizcaino is likely to get as much as $1 million through arbitration.
As for Minor, he still hasn’t thrown off a mound since the spring, something the Braves had hoped to see before committing to any contract offer for the left-hander. Minor, 27, is eligible for arbitration for the third time, after winning his arbitration case against the Braves in February and being awarded a $5.6 million salary.
If the Braves go to arbitration again with him, they would be required to offer no less than 80 percent of his 2015 salary, or $4.48 million.
A three-person arbitration panel might reward Minor with the higher of two salary options if he asked for something along the lines of what he made last season. For that reason, it seems doubtful the Braves would offer arbitration.
Non-tender speculation only increased last week when the Braves signed veteran starter Bud Norris to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, giving them another experienced starter to go with top-of-rotation returns Miller and Julio Teheran and a bevy of promising young starters, most of whom debuted last season.
If the Braves and Minor agreed to it, the team still could sign him for a lesser amount – either before arbitration, or afterward as a non-tendered free agent.
On Nov. 10, Braves general manager John Coppolella was asked whether the Braves would need to see Minor throw off a mound before the Dec. 2 tender/non-tender decision.
“We want to see something, whether it’s off the mound or … we need to see something,” Coppolella answered that day. “We can’t just blindly tender him a contract and put the team at risk. Because every single dollar counts for us.”
Asked about the situation Sunday, Coppolella said the Braves were continuing to gather information and appreciated how open Minor and his agent, B.B. Abbott, had been throughout the entire process.
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