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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

MLBTR: Braves To Extend Freddie Freeman; Braves Sign Jason Heyward To Two-Year Deal

The Heyward deal.

Braves buy out last two years of Heyward’s arbitration at 13 mil or so, then drop a reported 8 year/125 mil buyout extension for Freeman. This carries Heyward through 2016 and should extend Freeman well past the Turner Field era.

No word on the young starting pitchers. They will absolutely go to arb with Kimbrel.

Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 04:15 PM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves

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   1. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: February 04, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4651618)
8 year/125 mil buyout extension for Freeman.
so, that buys out 3 years of arbitration for freeman and then 5 years of free agency? that is insanely cheap.
   2. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: February 04, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4651624)
The Freeman deal isn't officially official or even official yet; apparently the parties are still "working a couple things out."

Still, good day for the franchise, even if it would seem to make crystal clear the reality that Heyward is gone in free agency when he gets the chance.
   3. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: February 04, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4651628)
Wow, I don't know. The 3 arb years would come out to what, like $6 million/$11 million/$15 million? Am I close? Regardless, that's IF he keeps playing at the level he showed in 2013? (I don't know crap about arg figures, but that seemed like a reasonable place to start.)

Then it's 5 years for about $95 million? That's $18-$20 million a year. So, he needs to be a 3 win player for the FA years to make it even and he was a 5-6 win player last year.

OK. It seems decent - but not "insanely cheap". BUT, he will be off the books when he turns 30/31 and that's a smart move. Always.
   4. Mike A Posted: February 04, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4651635)
Happy to see Freeman sign on for a while. He's certainly a likeable player. And though his value is somewhat limited as a first sacker, he's a good one.

Freddy gets engaged, rescued by Chipper from an ice storm, and insanely rich all over the course of a couple of weeks.

Disappointed that Heyward wasn't extended longer, but such is life in mid-payroll land.
   5. Colin Posted: February 04, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4651665)
Dave O'Brien, the Braves' beat writer, has suggested for months that the Braves have tried to sign Heyward to a longer extension, but he's not willing to do so (at least at the numbers they're offering). This deal locks in one popular, marquee player on the roster for when they move to the new ballpark. There's a good chance the team will suck anyway in 2017, but at least now they'll have Freeman in addition to Simmons and Teheran to try to market those season tickets.
   6. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 04, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4651706)
I'm not sure, if I were the Braves, I'd really want to extend Heyward that far, especially if he's looking for serious dollars.
   7. bigglou115 Posted: February 04, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4651727)
Well, the Braves still stand a chance with Heyward. The word on twitter is longer deals were discussed, but they bogged down because the Braves wanted a discount based on Heyward's health. After next year maybe they'll come to an agreement there. Either way, the Braves are in a position to choose between him and Justin next year, they both run out after 2015, so the one who leaves current salary could cover the others raise.
   8. zonk Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:00 PM (#4651735)
Hard to believe Heyward is going to be just 24 next year...

That said, it feels like Freeman has established himself as the superior hitter. I suppose dWAR makes them pretty equivalent overall - and I suppose if Heyward would sign the same 8/125 - I'd do that, too.

However, if Heyward wants more?

I'd say gimme a season of full health that looks more like a ~130 OPS+ season rather than the last couple.
   9. Davo Dozier Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4651741)
Does dWAR not like Freeman's defense?

Gosh. I don't know if I've ever seen a more graceful defender on first than Freeman. Crazy to think my eyes are lying to me!
   10. zonk Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4651753)
Does dWAR not like Freeman's defense?


I think it likes him OK -- Freeman has a negative dWAR, but I think that's mostly a positional adjustment thing for 1B. Someone smarter than me can provide the details.
   11. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4651755)
I'm not sure, if I were the Braves, I'd really want to extend Heyward that far, especially if he's looking for serious dollars


I would. Heyward is a top notch hitter, an all-world defender, and I'm pretty sure he's not going to have another appendectomy going forward.
   12. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4651757)
Does dWAR not like Freeman's defense?


From memory, the metrics ding him for having little range, and don't give him much credit for picking anything thrown his way. I think he plays better than his defensive metrics, personally.
   13. zonk Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:32 PM (#4651759)

I would. Heyward is a top notch hitter, an all-world defender, and I'm pretty sure he's not going to have another appendectomy going forward.


He's got the POTENTIAL to be a top notch hitter... his career line or even career best lines don't scream top notch to me. Now... just taking his career best rookie line of 277/393/456 131OPS+ - that's a fine thing, especially for a 21 yo. But until he meets or beats it, I have trouble calling that top notch, especially for a corner OF.

Setting defense aside, he's basically been Kevin McReynolds...
   14. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:33 PM (#4651761)
Does dWAR not like Freeman's defense?



I think it likes him OK -- Freeman has a negative dWAR, but I think that's mostly a positional adjustment thing for 1B.


yes, of course it is. He has a +8 rField in 3 full seasons. Not great, but good enough. Remember, Keith Hernandez had a mere 0.6 dWar.
   15. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: February 04, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4651764)
Well, the Braves still stand a chance with Heyward. The word on twitter is longer deals were discussed, but they bogged down because the Braves wanted a discount based on Heyward's health.


I really don't understand the health concerns with regards to Heyward. In 2013, he missed about a month due to an appendectomy and then another month due to a broken jaw suffered when he was hit in the face by a pitch. One of them is a medical condition that can't reoccur and the other is a freak injury. And then in 2011 he missed about a month due to inflammation in his shoulder and in 2010 he missed half a month due to a sprained thumb. He had some bad luck in 2013, but I don't see any evidence that he's fragile or incredibly injury prone.

EDIT: The shoulder injury prompted Chipper Jones to get on his case via comments to the media. But really, that was a couple years ago.
   16. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4651773)
The Freeman deal apparently came in at 8/135.
   17. zachtoma Posted: February 04, 2014 at 09:29 PM (#4651782)
Yes, it would be a bummer to lose Heyward in 2 years but I gotta say, as of right now, Freddie Freeman is the better baseball player. They're the same age. This takes him through age 31 and I really believe in his bat - in another offensive context he could be a .340, 30 hr hitter. Very enthusiastic about this deal. I was getting pretty down on the Braves hopes for retaining any of their young talent just a couple days ago, so this feels great.
   18. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 09:42 PM (#4651788)
The Braves are positioning themselves to be competitive and productive from now at least until they open the new stadium in 2017. They have no desire to go into their brand new stadium with a terrible product. They will probably re-up with Heyward or Justin Upton at the end of 2015 as well (Uggla, Kimbrel and Medlen will all be off the books at that point.)
   19. bookbook Posted: February 04, 2014 at 09:49 PM (#4651796)
Kevin McReynolds with plus defense is a pretty darn valuable player. The Mariners would like three, please.
   20. zachtoma Posted: February 04, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4651797)
I would re-up with Heyward over Justin Upton. It's been 4 years, and Heyward still has big exploitable holes in his plate approach (while Freeman has grown by leaps and bounds), so I'm skeptical but still hopeful. With Upton, I really do think we've seen his best. And it's good, but I'd go with Heyward's relative youth/upside.
   21. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4651799)
I would re-up with Heyward over Justin Upton.


Unless Upton puts together a year or two where he hits like his "good streaks" for 3/4 or more of the season, yes. Because as bookbook note @19, defense counts. Heyward's a plus defender in center. He's absurdly good in right.
   22. zonk Posted: February 04, 2014 at 10:00 PM (#4651803)
Kevin McReynolds with plus defense is a pretty darn valuable player. The Mariners would like three, please.


Yeah, sure - everyone would... silly semantic quibble, I guess... that's just not a top notch offensive player to me (and as I said, Herward certainly has the talent to be a top notch offensive force).

Hey, ultimately - if Heyward hits the market, he'll be, what... 26? I would dearly hope the Cubs* are in on that.

I'm just saying that if I were the Braves, I'd prefer to see Heyward take that step forward before I paid him like he already has.

*I guess I should admit that subconsciously, I might be thinking of the Castro/Rizzo extensions... but then, those were for a lot less... and sure, Heyward's ceiling is probably higher... I'm just saying I wouldn't be so anxious to pay a guy like the player he could be.
   23. zachtoma Posted: February 04, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4651809)
I'm just saying that if I were the Braves, I'd prefer to see Heyward take that step forward before I paid him like he already has.


I agree entirely. Freeman has, and that's why he got the contract.

I may have misinterpreted a couple of the Braves' moves this offseason, specifically not re-signing McCann or Hudson. Originally I thought they couldn't afford it, but they might've thought it wasn't worth it baseball-wise, and I can see that in both those cases.
   24. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 04, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4651816)
They let McCann walk because they believe they have a league minimum replacement for him in Gattis.

They let Hudson walk because they believe they have plenty of #2-4 level starters in house already.

They have no 1B prospect in line after Freeman (Joey Terdoslavich is the next closest) or OF prospects to replace Heyward (Kyle Wren, maybe?)
   25. spike Posted: February 04, 2014 at 10:45 PM (#4651819)
I think he plays better than his defensive metrics, personally.

I hate to be the "you gotta see him play!" guy, but I agree with this. He really steals a fair number of outs with his terrific ability to stretch and soft hands.
   26. zachtoma Posted: February 04, 2014 at 11:33 PM (#4651837)
I hate to be the "you gotta see him play!" guy, but I agree with this. He really steals a fair number of outs with his terrific ability to stretch and soft hands.


To this extent, I think it's possible that a fair amount of his defensive value is actually absorbed by the other infielders, esp. Andrelton and Chris Johnson. He saves plays for those guys all the time, and it would help explain Simmons' abnormally high defensive run value.
   27. zachtoma Posted: February 04, 2014 at 11:35 PM (#4651838)

They let McCann walk because they believe they have a league minimum replacement for him in Gattis.


If they really think Gattis can be a full-time catcher, I'll be surprised. Maybe in the very short term, but I think they hope Bethancourt will be valuable enough defensively that his bat won't matter.
   28. Davo Dozier Posted: February 04, 2014 at 11:45 PM (#4651843)
To this extent, I think it's possible that a fair amount of his defensive value is actually absorbed by the other infielders, esp. Andrelton and Chris Johnson. He saves plays for those guys all the time, and it would help explain Simmons' abnormally high defensive run value.

Like, go watch a ten-minute clip of Andrelton Simmons' defensive highlights. On about half of them Freeman has to pick the throw out of the dirt (or make an impressive stretch on a bang-bang play). He's just insane over there.
   29. billyshears Posted: February 05, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4651849)
At Heyward's size, I would be shocked if he is near the defensive player in three years as he is now. Given that his value is heavily reliant on his defensive abilities, and his offensive performance and health have been inconsistent, it's no surprise that they couldn't reach a long term deal. The Braves face too much risk and Heyward could end up leaving too much on the table, especially this close to free agency.
   30. Brian White Posted: February 05, 2014 at 01:53 AM (#4651858)
If they really think Gattis can be a full-time catcher, I'll be surprised. Maybe in the very short term, but I think they hope Bethancourt will be valuable enough defensively that his bat won't matter.


I think the idea is that they'll mix in Gerald Laird a fair bit, depending on matchups and Gattis' health. I think there's a good chance they get pretty good production out of those two for one year, and then can add in Bethancourt to the mix if he continues to improve in the minors.

As far as Freeman's defense goes, I'm going to be contrarian and say that he doesn't look like an excellent defender to my eyes. His range to his right is kinda meh - in particular, earlier in his career, there were grounders hit to his right that he could potentially get to, but simply wouldn't. He'd go cover first instead, while relying on Dan Uggla to go get those (that usually didn't turn out well, but the words "Dan Uggla" in that sentence already alerted you to that fact.) He got better at not doing that last year, and other aspects of his defense are good - his range to his left is fine, and he's good at receiving throws, although I don't have a good intuitive sense of where Freeman would rank among MLB 1Bs on throwing errors saved. But still, he looks to be slightly above average to me, not the gold glover some people proclaim him as.

Still, I'm happy to see this extension, even if I'd prefer a Heyward extension to this one. Ah well, one at a time.
   31. Brian White Posted: February 05, 2014 at 02:01 AM (#4651860)
At Heyward's size, I would be shocked if he is near the defensive player in three years as he is now.


Heyward is pretty damn skinny. He's tall, but hardly has any fat on him. I recall him standing next to Derrek Lee in 2010 - they're both 6'5", but Heyward looked like a stick figure next to Lee, who isn't exactly a fat guy himself. Heyward's body type is one I would imagine would age really well, his injury history not withstanding.
   32. zachtoma Posted: February 05, 2014 at 02:57 AM (#4651866)
Heyward is pretty damn skinny. He's tall, but hardly has any fat on him. I recall him standing next to Derrek Lee in 2010 - they're both 6'5", but Heyward looked like a stick figure next to Lee, who isn't exactly a fat guy himself. Heyward's body type is one I would imagine would age really well, his injury history not withstanding.


He just looks like a phenomenal athlete in person. It's harder to get a sense of it on TV, but his size, his build - slender but broad-shouldered and strong, the fluidity and speed with which he moves all his mass around - it's all really, really striking and I can't really recall ever seeing a player like that before. His swing - gorgeous. It looks like he came down from Mt. Olympus out there, it's really easy to dream on a guy like that. If I were going by appearances alone I would peg him as the best player in the league.
   33. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 05, 2014 at 04:39 AM (#4651871)
Heyward's comp list currently includes both Jeff Francouer and Barry Bonds.
I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that his career will end up somewhere between those two.
   34. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 05, 2014 at 06:06 AM (#4651877)
Heyward is a top notch hitter


This isn't true.

The idea that Heyward is even a good player is based on implausible defensive statistics that are probably not accurate. Giving him remotely what Freeman got would be an enormous mistake. And then you take into account how often he gets hurt.
   35. Brian White Posted: February 05, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4651894)
The idea that Heyward is even a good player is based on implausible defensive statistics that are probably not accurate.


Heyward absolutely aces the eye test on defense. I understand skepticism towards defensive statistics, but pretty much all the various defensive metrics, as well as scouts, internet talking heads, and Braves fans and coaches are all pretty much in agreement here - Heyward is great on defense. Also, when put in center, Heyward looks just fine. Granted its a tiny sample size, but I'm perfectly confident that if B.J. Upton gets sucked into a black hole tomorrow, and the Braves have to stick Heyward in center for a full season, he'd hold it down just fine.

As far as extending Heyward, he'll be 24, with 2000+ ABs and a 115 OPS+ in the majors. He adds a crapton of value on defense and on the bases, and he's got outstanding tools and a great athletic build that suggest a much higher ceiling. On the downside, there's the injuries and some inconsistent year-to-year performance, as well as having not translated those tools and athletic skills into a dominant season once in four chances. On the whole, if I'm the Braves, I offer him the same contract they offered Freeman without even thinking. (And the Braves probably did just that, and Heyward turned it down.)
   36. The Pequod Posted: February 05, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4651921)
A little surprised to see nearly unanimous praise for this deal. No concerns that 2013 was a blip and he's really more of the 2012 version going forward?
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 05, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4651924)
Freeman's BABIP was pretty low in 2012 and the entire difference between 2012 and 2013 was 50 points of batting average. I'd figure on splitting the difference between 2012 and 2013 going forward, at which level Freeman is worth the money.
   38. bunyon Posted: February 05, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4651927)
Heyward's comp list currently includes both Jeff Francouer and Barry Bonds.
I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that his career will end up somewhere between those two.


Along with the opinions here.

He has gotten hurt a lot. There is a chance that is "real" - that is, that he just isn't tough enough to play banged up. But, more likely, IMO, is that it's been flukes and he'll be fine.

I think he'll age okay. Not great but he's not a fat 1Bman, either. I think his defense is excellent but not all-time great.

The big thing is the holes in the swing. Can he address that? If he can't, he's going to be a lot closer to Francouer with better defense. If he can, he won't be Barry Bonds but he could be a multi-year all-star pretty easily.

All in all, I think it completely reasonable that both the Braves and Heyward want to wait on a long contract. If Heyward can make a leap at the plate, he'll be a very rich man. And I think the Braves would be fine paying him (at least close to) what he's worth if he does make that leap. If he can't, you don't want to be saddled with a long over priced contract. That risks losing him in free agency but better that than a long committment to a guy who has some holes at the plate.
   39. alilisd Posted: February 05, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4651946)
32: Sounds like Dave Winfield to me. His defense, by the numbers, was not good after turning 28. I'd still want him on my team though. :-)
   40. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 05, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4652032)
He has gotten hurt a lot. There is a chance that is "real" - that is, that he just isn't tough enough to play banged up. But, more likely, IMO, is that it's been flukes and he'll be fine.


He's only gotten baseball-hurt one year; 2012. 2013 really doesn't count. He had an emergency appendectomy (which will NOT happen again, I suspect) and got hit in the face with a fastball. Those aren't projectable "injury prone" events.
   41. bigglou115 Posted: February 05, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4652056)
I see a lot of talk about wholes in Heyward's swing, and I think that's being dramatically overblown. From what I see, he goes through periods where his swing is a mess, this year it was about 30 games to start the year, which speculatively could've been less if they weren't split by that appendectomy. Starting in June he was an excellent hitter, raising his first half wRC+ to 98 and going on to post a 162 wRC+ in the second half. There were no holes in his swing over that period of time. He's probably always going to be streaky, but his approach doesn't need improving, he just needs to be more consistent.

Maybe I'm quibbling, but to me that's a very different thing from omnipresent mechanical issues that need to be fixed.
   42. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 05, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4652069)
Maybe I'm quibbling, but to me that's a very different thing from omnipresent mechanical issues that need to be fixed.


Every player goes through stretches where his swing is screwed up.
   43. bigglou115 Posted: February 05, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4652106)
Every player goes through stretches where his swing is screwed up.


Exactly, I just don't see anything that makes me think anything more serious is happening with Jason. He gets a little quick sometimes and starts grounding everything to first base, he presses and it gets worse. The thing that makes me think its really just as simple as that is that you can see the progression day to day.

Lets say he starts off hitting well. He starts pushing, trying to do more and more as he gets more confident. The result is the aforementioned grounder issue as he starts opening up too soon trying to really wallop the ball (as well as his sporadic difficulties against lefties). The more he presses the worse it gets. Finally, he relaxes and starts thinking about shortening up and taking the ball the other way. As that starts to work he gets more and more confidence until his default swing aims to just square the ball up wherever its pitched. This is when he's well above average, hitting line drives up the middle and turning on inside pitches for power. The cycle eventually repeats.

That cycle has happened each year for Jason. That looks like an approach/maturity problem to me, not a mechanical one. Just my $.02, for what its worth I'm not a mechanics guru, but I haven't missed more than 10 Braves games in a year since 2004 so I've seen a lot of the guy. I mean, even his hot zones on ESPN show him to be a pretty typical left hander, he hits well when he gets full extension. The only zones he hit below .260 last year were the up and in 9th and the up middle 9th.

edit: If you go by slugging he slugged over .500 in every location but middle in, up in, and up middle.
   44. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 06, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4652648)
And the team continues to press its "buy out the productive young years and let someone else pay for their decline phase" strategy with opening bids to Andrelton Simmons and Julio Teheran.

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