11/17/08 6:28 PM EST
Braves provide offer to Ohman
Veteran reliever open to re-signing, but will explore options
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
The Braves have said they'd like to re-sign Ohman and they further proved this on Monday, when they provided him a preliminary contractual offer.
While terms weren't revealed, Ohman viewed the offer as a good start to the contractual negotiations which are expected to follow. But at the same time, he indicated that before making any kind of decision, he'll likely spend the next couple of weeks fielding offers from other teams.
"It was a strong offer intended to show me that they'd like to have me back," said Ohman, who made a career-high 83 appearances for Atlanta this season. "I've talked to my agent and we've agreed that once you file for free agency, you just have to let everything run its course. I think I'd be remiss not to listen to what else is out there."
Ohman is hoping to receive a contract similar to the ones that fellow left-handed relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Damaso Marte have landed over the past week. Both gained average annual salaries of $4 million, with Marte getting a three-year, $12 million contract from the Yankees and Affeldt a two-year, $8 million deal from the Giants.
The Cardinals, Tigers and Reds are among the other teams who are expected to continue showing legitimate interest in Ohman, who went 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 58 2/3 innings in 2008.
"The only major thing I've told my agent is that I really want to play for a team that's going to contend," Ohman said. "With the needs that Atlanta has and the money they have to spend, I'd say re-signing with the Braves is a viable option."
Braves general manager Frank Wren's primary pitching needs center around finding two starting pitchers to fill the first two spots of his rotation. As for the bullpen, his only obvious need would be to find a left-handed reliever if Ohman were to sign elsewhere.
During the 63 appearances that he made through Aug. 14, Ohman posted a 2.52 ERA and limited opponents to a .185 batting average. At the time, it looked liked he'd definitely be classified as a Type B free agent, meaning Atlanta would receive compensation if it lost him via free agency.
But fatigue seemed to play a factor in the late-season struggles that prevented Ohman from gaining this Type B status. During his final 20 appearances, the 31-year-old left-hander posted a 10.38 ERA and allowed opponents to compile a .421 batting average.
Statistically, Ohman's late-season slide was best evidenced through the numbers he produced against left-handed batters, who hit just .161 with a .223 on-base percentage against him in his first 63 appearances and .389 with a .412 on-base percentage during his final 20 appearances.
As for right-handed hitters, they were limited to a .209 batting average and .308 on-base percentage during Ohman's first 63 appearances. But during that final 20-game span, they hit .423 against him with a .464 on-base percentage.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.