Soriano, Gonzalez offered arbitration
Braves decline on LaRoche, Anderson, Norton
ATLANTA -- The Braves have set themselves up for Draft pick compensation if their free-agent relievers, Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, opt to sign elsewhere.
General manager Frank Wren announced on Tuesday afternoon that the Braves offered arbitration to Type A free agents Gonzalez and Soriano. In addition, he revealed that first baseman Adam LaRoche, a Type B free agent, had not received this offer.
Standing as two of the top relievers on this year's free-agent market, Gonzalez and Soriano seem to be in position to receive multiyear offers that are much more attractive than what the Braves would be willing to offer.
If a Type A free agent declines arbitration, their former club is eligible to receive the signing team's first-round 2010 First-Year Player Draft pick and a sandwich selection between the first and second rounds.
In the event that the signing team has one of the Draft's first 15 selections, the former club would receive the sandwich pick and a second-round selection.
The fact that the Braves didn't offer arbitration to LaRoche doesn't necessarily erase the possibility that he could return as their first baseman. But this decision seemingly confirms that they aren't willing to provide the one-year contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.5 to $8 million that he could have gained had he been given the opportunity to accept an arbitration offer.
LaRoche hit .325 with 12 homers and a .957 OPS in the 57 games he played for the Braves after being acquired from the Red Sox at the Trade Deadline. Atlanta seems reluctant to make him an offer that includes more than one year.
Had LaRoche accepted an arbitration offer and then signed elsewhere, the Braves would have received a sandwich pick between the first two rounds.
By offering arbitration to both Gonzalez and Soriano, the Braves have taken a risk that might hurt them financially if they were both to accept. But there seems to be a strong possibility that at least one of these potential closers will be pitching elsewhere next year.
But Atlanta would not be necessarily devastated if one of the relievers were to make the surprising revelation that they would accept arbitration.
Gonzalez, who named Scott Boras as his new representative this offseason, would provide definite shock if he were to accept this arbitration offer that would likely net him a one-year deal worth $5 to $6 million. The left-handed reliever posted a 2.42 ERA and limited opponents to a .209 batting average in his career-high 80 appearances this past season.
Soriano, who could gain a one-year deal worth $7.5 to $8 million if he were to accept arbitration, converted 27 out of 31 save opportunities this past season. In his career-high 77 appearances, he posted a 2.97 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, a .194 opponents' batting average and 12.13 strikeouts per nine innings -- the National League's second-best mark.
Along with LaRoche, the Braves also chose not to offer arbitration to Garret Anderson and Greg Norton.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.