The Atlanta Braves and Mike Minor have agreed to a one-year contract worth $3.85 million in order to avoid arbitration which may be one of the best decisions the team has made over this offseason. They most likely saved money by not letting a court decide on the salary.
In a breakout 2013 season for Minor, he stood as the ace on the staff after Tim Hudson suffered a broken ankle against the New York Mets. He held a 3.21 ERA while starting 32 games and pitching 204.2 innings. He struck out 181 players and only had 46 total walks while striking out eight men per nine innings he pitched. Numbers like this rarely earn numbers as low as $3.85 million, even for one year.
I can see the Braves wanting to see him post these numbers for at least another season before giving him any big money that many people believe he deserves. However, if the Braves aren’t careful, they could lose one of their best young pitchers and have to search for more talent. In the future, he could be a guy that could earn anywhere from $8-13 million a year if what he did last year remains the pitcher that we see. Minor has the stuff and talent to be a top of the rotation pitcher in Atlanta and was able to prove in the 2013 season that he was able to carry a staff.
I know many people will probably question his youth and the fact that this was his best season to date. However, if the Braves cannot lock up any “youth” in their rotation, they will end up as a team that has 30-year-old, middle of the rotation guys. That may not be a bad thing in some situations, but Braves’ management clearly isn’t going to go out and spend money on guys like Cliff Lee or Matt Garza to headline the rotation. They showed exactly what they would do when they went and signed an injured Gavin Floyd to a $4 million contract this offseason. Floyd is probably good for 10 wins in a season and a rotation full of those aren’t going to get the team far in coming seasons.
The Braves have settled most of their arbitration cases, but there are three huge players that are still awaiting their case to be heard in the court: Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel.