Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stock Report: Midseason Edition (Part 2 of 3)

Relief Pitchers (continued)

Eric O'Flaherty
2013 Salary: $4,320,000
2014 Status: Free Agent

For four years, O'Flaherty had proven himself to be a stellar left-hand option out of the bullpen, most noticeably during a tremendous 2011 run where he finished with an 0.98 ERA over 73.2 innings.  However, with his velocity down and pain increasing, O'Flaherty hit the DL and the news was delivered that he would undergo Tommy John surgery and his season was over.  With it, his run as a Brave seemed likely to come to a close.  A free agent at year's end, where O'Flaherty lands in 2014 is up in the air.  Possibly, his injury might make him more affordable with O'Flaherty looking for a make-good short-term contract.  However, considering the going-rate for left-hand relievers, I find it doubtful to believe he won't find good money on the free agent market.

2014 Projection: Leaving via free agency

Cory Rasmus
2013 Salary: Prorated minimum
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

Brother of Toronto's Colby Rasmus, Cory made his major league debut earlier this season after joining the 40-man during the offseason.  The results weren't pretty as Rasmus struggled to keep the ball in the yard over a small, small sample size.  Still, tough to stay up in the majors after 4 homers in 6.2 ING.  Rasmus, who was moved to the bullpen for good in 2012, has an electric arm, but struggles to harness it, walking 4.91 BB/9 during 58.2 ING at Mississippi in 2012 and 5.79 BB/9 thus far in 32.2 innings at Gwinnett.  Rasmus is not a big prospect, but if he can throw more strikes, he will be a good arm out of the pen.

2014 Projection: Renewed contract

Anthony Varvaro
2013 Salary: $490,000
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

Varvaro went north with the team and didn't need an injury to get him to the bigs.  Since breaking camp, he has a 2.68 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.  Solid, right?  Overall, he has been pretty decent.  3.47 FIP with a slightly concerning 4.16 xFIP.  Despite SEVEN wild pitches, Varvaro has avoided walks.  However, much like his xFIP, there are so many numbers that make you not buy into Varvaro.  A rapidly decreasing K% and a possibly unsustainable .248 BABIP are enough for me to leave Varvaro in low leverage situations and playing again for his job in the spring.

2014 Projection: Renewed contract

Jonny Venters
2013 Salary: $1,625,000
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the Second Time

Mr. Sinker struggled with his health in the spring before eventually going under the knife.  He might make it back for spring training, but regardless, Venters has an important season coming up.  A spike in BABIP made his 2012 look a good deal worse than it actually was.  He has been as solid as they come for three seasons and with O'Flaherty likely gone in 2014, there is an integral role for Venters and Atlanta needs him to take it.

2014 Projection: One-year deal through arbitration

Jordan Walden
2013 Salary: $541,500
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the First Time

How important has Walden been this season?  Considering the high leverage hurlers the Braves have lost, the Braves needed Walden to step up and he has. He's pitching with his best control of his career with a 2.18 FIP and a 3.54 xFIP.  Amazingly, this is despite losing a mile per hour on his fastball.  But the big difference for Walden was the difference that made Craig Kimbrel a star.  Control.  He's been over 10% the last three seasons, but 7.2% this season.  It's the difference between a WHIP over 1.20 and his current WHIP of 1.04.

2014 Projection: One-year deal through arbitration

Alex Wood
2013 Salary: Prorated minimum
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

Few pitchers in recent Braves history have climbed to the majors so soon after a draft like Wood.  After 13 starts at Rome where he posted a 8.9 K/9, 3.7 K/BB, and a 2.38 FIP, Wood skipped Lynchburg and headed to Mississippi this season.  Another ten starts in AA this season where he struck out over a batter an inning and kept his impeccable control, Wood was promoted to help a bullpen badly in need of a live arm.  The results thus far have been awesome.  10.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, and a 1.79 FIP in his first 22 innings.  Wood was recently demoted to allow the Braves to recall Jose Constanza, but the smart money is Wood will be back soon after the All-Star Break.

2014 Projection: Renewed contract and possibly promoted to starter

Catchers

Evan Gattis
2013 Salary: $490,000
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

There's not much else that can be said about Gattis at this point.  He is a productive second half way from securing a starting spot 2014.  But there are concerns that most don't seem interested in.  Gattis' numbers do take a tumble in starts vs. coming off the bench.  In his first 43 starts this season, Gattis has hit .229/.289/.484.  The power is nice, but that's enough, is it?  On the flip side, how valuable are those numbers?  I consistently make the argument against splits being a tell-all because lowering your sample size decreases the ability for the numbers to tell a story.  It's an important second half to say the least.

2014 Projection: Renewed contract, possibly promoted to starting catcher

Gerald Laird
2013 Salary: $1,500,000
2014 Status: Signed - $1,500,000

I am surprised by how Laird has performed to this point, even if it's in-line with his 2012 effort.  While Laird won't ever replace David Ross in anyone's heart, he is a solid backup and will continue that next season.

2014 Projection: Returns, backup catcher

Brian McCann
2013 Salary: $12,000,000
2014 Status: Free Agent

It took awhile, but the old McCann seems to be on his way back.  Over 53 games, McCann has posted a .246 ISO, a .910 OPS, and a .387 wOBA.  After a full-season worst 1.8 WAR last season, McCann has already eclipsed that with a 2.2 WAR.  Unfortunately, no matter how he may perform this season, McCann's future seems to be with another team.  The more Gattis succeeds, the less likely it becomes for McCann to return.  Even if there are concerns about Gattis, the money may not be there to bring back McCann for 2014.

2014 Projection: Leaving via free agency

Infielders

Blake Dewitt
2013 Salary: Likely minimum
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the Second Time

Dewitt lasted four at-bats before a back strain sent him to the DL. He hasn't been heard of since.  If you have any information on the whereabouts of Dewitt, please contact Atlanta Braves Missing Persons Division.  Thank you.

2014 Projection: Non-tender

Freddie Freeman
2013 Salary: $560,000
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the First Time

I have spoke extensively on Freeman's first half here.  There's little more to say about his first half, but if he continues to perform at such a solid rate for the second half, the Braves will be pressed with a question they have may also face with Mike Minor.  Is it time to extend the arbitration-eligible Freeman?  Absolutely.  There are concerns with Kris Medlen's fallback campaign or with Jason Heyward's maddening inconsistent production.  However, Freeman has simply developed and been better with each season.  If Paul Goldschmidt got $32M over 5 years, can Freeman truly garner much more?

2014 Projection: Extension

Paul Janish
2013 Salary: $725,000
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the Third Time

While Janish is arbitration-eligible for a third time after this season, he is still roughly two years away from free agency.  Janish has value, but that value is not something you typically pay around a million for.

2014 Projection: Non-tender

Tomorrow, this series will finish with a look at the rest of the infield and the outfield.

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