Let the free-agent frenzy begin
While the Giants and their fans are still basking in the glory of winning the World Series, the rest of the baseball world has moved forward and accelerated their roster reconstruction plans for the 2011 season.
As soon as Giants closer Brian Wilson ended this year’s Fall Classic with a strikeout of Nelson Cruz last night, the free-agent market officially opened. All players eligible to enter this market officially became free agents last night and over the course of the next five days their current clubs will have exclusive negotiating rights.
In other words over the course of this week, the Braves will have exclusive negotiating rights with Troy Glaus, Eric Hinske and Derrek Lee. Hinske stands as the only member of this trio who could return to Atlanta next year.
But it will likely be at least a few more weeks before Hinske learns where he’ll be playing in 2011. He will take advantage of the chance to evaluate his demand from other clubs.
The Braves are looking for a right-handed backup for their left-handed first baseman Freddie Freeman. But if Hinske’s cost remains around $1.5 million, there’s certainly a chance they could attempt to bring him back to their bench.
Closer Billy Wagner is among the Braves who had a team option for the 2011 season. But when asked again this morning if he ‘d altered his plan to retire, Wagner didn’t even hesitate before emphatically saying, “No.”
Later today, the Braves will likely announce that they have exercised the $2.5 million options to bring both Alex Gonzalez and Omar Infante back next year. They could also soon announce that they have reached an agreement with Scott Proctor, who would be entering his final arbitration-eligible season.
Proctor, who struggled while attempting to return from Tommy John surgery this past year, will likely get a base salary of approximately $750,000. The veteran reliever’s contract will include some performance-based incentives that could allow him to earn close to $1 million.
The Braves aren’t expected to exercise the options to retain Kyle Farnsworth or Rick Ankiel. Farnsworth’s $5.25 million option includes a $250,000 buyout. Ankiel’s $6 million option includes a $500,000 buyout.
In other Braves-related news, general manager Frank Wren has hired highly-regarded Bob Johnson to serve as one of his advance scouts. Johnson gained great respect from his peers during his long tenure in this role with the Mets.
“He’s as good as it gets,” one Major League scout, not affiliated with the Braves, said earlier this week.
Johnson will be replacing Chuck McMichael, who was recently relieved of his duties with the organization. McMichael had been with the Braves since the end of the 2000 season.