The Braves avoided an arbitration case by re-signing set-up man Jordan Walden. The two sides reached a deal on a one year, $1.49 million contract. This was the first arbitration eligible year for the 26 year old right hander, who was expected to get around $2 million. In my opinion, the Braves got a pretty decent deal on Walden, who was bad down the stretch because of a groin injury. It certainly seems like the injury saved the Braves around a half million dollars.
Walden was really good last year when healthy. Over the entire season, he compiled a 3.45 ERA over 47 innings in 50 games. He struck out more than 1 per inning and walked 14. But in his first 43.2 innings, he posted a 2.47 ERA, so his ERA went up almost a full run in his last 4 injury riddled appearances. For an ERA to move a full run in only 4 appearances, you can tell how bad he was hurting. For most of the season, Walden was a dominant 8th inning guy and I think he will be that again in 2014.
The Braves bullpen was great in 2013, but it really could be epic if all the pieces fall into place in 2014.
The Braves still have 8 more arbitration eligible players left to deal with. The second year arbitration eligible guys are Kris Medlen (~$6MM) and Jason Heywar d(~$4MM). All the rest of these guys are first year arbitration eligible: Craig Kimbrel (~$8MM, but no one really knows), Mike Minor (~$4MM), Brandon Beachy (~$1MM), Freddie Freeman (~$5MM), Chris Johnson (~$4MM), and Jordan Schafer (~$1MM).