Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella was not shy about sharing the Braves intentions to acquire two or three starting pitchers and he was true to his word, re-signing right-hander Josh Collmenter to a one-year deal. He then turned around and inked righties R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon each to a one-year deal.
The first deal was with right-handed Josh Collmenter, a six-year veteran who ended the 2016 season making 3 starts for Atlanta after a nomadic year that saw him released by Arizona, picked up by the Cubs, and sold to the Braves.
Collmenter made a good impression with Atlanta, pitching to a 2.37 ERA (4.46 FIP) over 3 starts and 19 innings pitched. Collmenter made his name in Arizona and had a 3.54 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 659 IP with them over parts of six seasons. The signing puts Collmenter in the mix to be part of the 2016 starting rotation, thought he’s more likely to be used as Arizona used him – as a swing-man that can spot-start. The deal was for one year with a base salary of $1.2 Million, with another possible $1.2 Million available in performance incentives.
With the era of the 8-inning starter seeming to fade as teams realize that for most pitchers there’s little upside in letting them turn over a line-up more than a couple times, pitchers like Collmenter that are already conditioned to make multiple-inning relief outings may become more valuable. The man nicknamed “Tomahawk” is mostly a fastball/change-up pitcher. Collmenter has an extreme over-the-top pitching motion that masks his pitches well, and that deception is needed as his fastball tops out at around 88 miles per hour.
R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon
On Thursday, the Braves acquired right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Dickey, most recently of the Toronto Blue Jays, signed a one-year deal with a team option for 2018. The Dickey guarantees him $8 Million, and as much as $15.5 Million if the option is exercised. The following day they signed New York Mets legend Bartolo Colon to a one-year contract for $12.5 Million. My colleague Brent Blackwell has already done a nice breakdown of these signings.
Acquiring Dickey and Colon offer two things for the Braves beyond just getting inning-eating pitchers:
- Disappointing young pitchers in the first wave of prospects to make the majors now have a bar to reach if they want to make the club and stay with them (looking at you Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair). If they can’t beat out two guys in their 40s, they don’t deserve to be in the majors. Last season too many guys got too many chances based on nothing but the ineptitude of the other starting pitchers on the staff.
- Fans will be spared the ignominy of sub-replacement retreads like Joel De La Cruz and Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez starting actual major league games for the club.
To keep up the consecutive pitcher signing streak alive, the Braves reunited with right-handed reliever Jordan Walden, signing him to a minor league deal that would guarantee him $1 million if he makes the club, and potentially pay him another $2 million in incentives. Walden has not pitched since April 2015, the season after he was traded to St. Louis along with Jason Heyward for right-handers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, suffering from the injury triptych of shoulder, biceps, and lat muscle problems. Any pitcher trying to come back from essentially two years out of the game faces an uphill battle, but this is a classic low-risk move for Atlanta.
Ender Inciarte Picks Up Something At The Hardware Store
Centerfielder Ender Inciarte was awarded a much-deserved Gold Glove award for his defensive prowess. Just as a reminder, here’s a look back at some of the jaw-dropping plays he made.
Hey @MLB. Here's a list of stats Freeman was better than Rizzo in:
Hard hit %
— Braves Options Guy (@BravesOptions) November 10, 2016
Technically this happened last week, but I wasn’t writing this last week so I’m fudging it. On November 2, the Seattle Mariners claimed right-hander Ryan Weber off waivers from Atlanta. Weber had been up-and-down with the Braves for the last two seasons, pitching fairly well at AAA Gwinnett and fairly poorly in Atlanta.
Weber was the last player in the Braves organization drafted in the ill-fated 2009 June amateur draft. The only other players drafted that year by Atlanta and to actually suit up for the big league club were left-hander Mike Minor and righty David Hale. Incredibly, there may be some debate on if this draft was worse than the 2011 draft.
Rule V Draft Deadline Approaching
Weber was exposed to waivers because of the need to free up space on the 40-man roster to protect minor leaguers that are otherwise eligible for the Rule V draft. The deadline to set the roster is November 18.
(Editor’s Note: Some of the following information was taken from research done by the incredibly informed and previously mentioned Braves Option Guy. If you don’t follow him on the Twitters, you are failing as a Braves fan. – CJ)
Here are the players currently eligible:
Of these, expect Max Fried and Lucas Sims to be protected on the 40-man roster while some shuffling to occur to protect players from the minor league portions of the draft.
SHAMELESS PLUG: Have you read Get to Know a Prospect: Max Fried? Guaranteed to give you at least 7% more information on Max Fried than you had before!
Minor League Veterans File For Free Agency
Finally, the following players have declared free agency. I expect some to re-sign with the Braves on minor league deals.