11/05/09 9:04 PM EST
LaRoche leads four Braves into free agency
Gonzalez, Anderson and Norton also file on Thursday
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LaRoche, Gonzalez, veteran outfielder Garret Anderson and utility man Greg Norton were the only Braves that filed for free agency on Thursday, when all eligible Major Leaguers had their first opportunity to do so.
Right-handed Rafael Soriano, who is the only other Atlanta player eligible for free agency, is expected to file within the next few days.
Gonzalez and Soriano, who are both expected to draw respectable demand from clubs looking for a closer, are both classified as Type A free agents. Via these rankings compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, LaRoche and Anderson were classified as Type B free agents.
If a Type A free agent signs elsewhere before Dec. 1, or declines an arbitration offer from their former club, the former club is eligible to receive a first-round Draft pick and a sandwich selection between the first and second rounds.
In the event that the signing club has one of the Draft's first 15 selections, the former club would receive the sandwich selection and a second-round selection.
If a Type B free agent signs elsewhere before Dec. 1 or declines an arbitration offer from their former club, the former club receives a sandwich selection between the first two rounds.
LaRoche enhanced his value by hitting .325 with 12 homers in the 57 games played after being acquired by the Braves on July 31 and is expected to be one of the top available first baseman on the free-agent market.
The Braves are expected to make an attempt to re-sign either Gonzalez or Soriano. But knowing there is a strong possibility that both could sign elsewhere, they have already started searching for other options to utilize as their closer.
At the conclusion of the regular season, Norton indicated that he may opt to retire. Anderson is expected to sign with an American League club.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.