The Braves re-signed veteran reliever Rex Brothers to a one-year deal Thursday, avoiding arbitration with the left-hander before Friday’s deadline to offer contracts to unsigned players or make them non-tendered free agents.
It’s a split contract worth $1.1 million if he makes the major league team and $450,000 if he’s in Triple-A, with only the latter amount guaranteed. He has a minor league option left, so he could go back and forth between the majors and minors in 2018 without being exposed to waivers.
Brothers, who’ll be 30 on Dec. 18, posted a 7.23 ERA in 27 appearances for the Braves in a comeback season after being called up in late June from Triple-A. He had 33 strikeouts with 12 walks in 23 2/3 innings, the highest K rate among Braves pitchers with at least 20 appearances.
The former Rockies closer worked primarily in middle relief for the Braves and limited left-handed batters to a .216 average and .644 OPS in 41 plate appearances, while right-handers hit .273 with an .848 OPS in 64 PAs.
Teams face an 8 p.m. deadline Friday to tender contracts to players and the Braves have seven remaining unsigned arbitration-eligibles: first baseman/pinch-hitter Matt Adams; starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz; relievers Arodys Vizcaino, Sam Freeman and Dan Winkler, and utility men Danny Santana and Jace Peterson.
Brothers became arbitration-eligible after the Braves declined a 2018 option on his contract.
Adams is projected to make at least $4.5 million if he goes to arbitration, while Vizcaino ($3.7 million) and Foltynewicz ($2.7 million) are the only others projected by the website MLB Trade Rumors to get more than $1.2 million should they go to arbitration.
The Braves have tried to trade Adams before Friday’s deadline to assure they get something for him rather than risk offering him arbitration and find it difficult to trade him later.
It was an erratic but mostly encouraging season for Brothers, who signed a minor league contract with the Braves in February after missing the 2016 season because of lingering shoulder problems and control issues that plagued him for much of the two previous seasons and led to his release by the Cubs late in 2016 spring training.
Finally healthy again with the Braves, he showed signs of effectiveness along with enduring some rough outings. After he was optioned back to Triple-A Aug. 21, he was recalled in September and pitched in 10 September games for the Braves, not allowing a run in eight of those appearances. But he was charged with four runs without recording an out Sept. 8 and gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings in his final appearance Sept. 28 to give him a 6.48 ERA for the month.
Brothers had a 1.74 ERA in 17 appearances in his final season for the Rockies in 2015 and a 3.42 ERA in 286 appearances over parts of five seasons with Colorado, collecting 278 strikeouts with 140 walks in 242 1/3 innings.
He was dominant for in 2013, when the lefty had a 1.74 ERA, converted 19 of 21 saves in 72 appearances and recorded 76 strikeouts with 36 walks in 67 1/3 innings. But Brothers’ promising career eventually stalled because of shoulder issues.
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