As the Braves await Josh Donaldson’s decision, they’re tasked with taking care of seven players already with the club.
The deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures is 1 p.m. Friday. Under normal circumstances, players are eligible for arbitration if they’ve exceeded three but remain under six years of major-league service time.
Under MLB’s system, the teams and eligible players exchange salary proposals for the 2020 season, and if middle ground isn’t reached by the deadline, the parties will proceed to an arbitration hearing. The sides can still negotiate and avoid a hearing after the deadline.
Players can sign contracts through their potential arbitration-eligible seasons, as Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies have, and avoid the process altogether. Otherwise, proceeding to arbitration, or reaching an agreement prior, is standard procedure in MLB.
Seven Braves fall into this category for 2020: Starter Mike Foltynewicz, relievers Shane Greene, Luke Jackson and Grant Dayton, utilityman Johan Camargo, outfielder Adam Duvall and shortstop Dansby Swanson.
The Braves avoided arbitration with all eligible players last winter. They last went to arbitration in February 2018, when the team won a hearing over first-time-eligible Foltynewicz. They went to court over a disagreement of $100,000, which was the smallest difference to prompt arbitration since 1994.
In 2019, Foltynewicz produced one of the more enigmatic seasons in the Braves’ recent history. He struggled mightily through June, forcing the Braves to demote him to Triple-A less than a year after his first All-Star appearance. He returned in August and produced a 2.65 ERA over his final 10 starts.
Foltynewicz was feast and famine in his two postseason outings. He pitched seven scoreless innings in Game 2 yet allowed seven of the 10 runs in the first inning of the infamous Game 5 collapse. MLB Trade Rumors' arbitration salary projections forecast Foltynewicz to receive $7.5 million.
Camargo endured an underwhelming season himself, hitting .233 across 98 games. His season ended early because of a right shin fracture. The utilityman, who could be slated to start if the club doesn’t address its third-base hole, is projected to make $1.6 million this season, per MLB Trade Rumors.
Duvall might also have a bigger role on the 2020 club. He spent much of last season smashing in Triple-A before Nick Markakis’ midseason injury created an avenue to the bigs. Duvall figures to split time with Markakis in left field this season, and he’s projected to earn around $3.8 million to do so.
Swanson is first-time eligible after surpassing three seasons of service time. The fan favorite has had his progress derailed by injuries early in his career. He hit .251 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs in 127 games last season. A heel injury stalled what was becoming a breakthrough offensive campaign for the 25-year-old. He’s projected at $3.3 million.
Greene was an All-Star closer for the Tigers before being dealt to the Braves at July’s deadline. His ERA ballooned from 1.18 to 4.01 ERA in a Braves uniform, but the righty settled in after a rough start.
He was speculated as a possible non-tender or trade candidate because of the massive sum the Braves are spending on their bullpen, but they insisted they saw him as a crucial piece to the 2020 team. Projections pegged him at $6.5 million.
Jackson became a serviceable reliever, even closing games (out of necessity) for a portion of the year. He’ll play an important part in the new-look bullpen this season, likely earning around $1.9 million.
Dayton pitched in 14 games, his first season back after Tommy John surgery, but missed a chunk of time after breaking a toe in a freak occurrence while playing catch. The lefty will compete for a role in the bullpen. MLB Trade Rumors placed him at $800,000.