Posted: 11:00 am Friday, February 14th, 2014

Braves’ signing of Teheran another risk worth taking 

By Jeff Schultz

Julio Teheran had 170 strikeouts in his first full season as a Braves' starter. (AP photo)

Julio Teheran had 170 strikeouts in his first full season as a Braves’ starter. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 2 p.m.)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — While it can be debated whether the Braves have done enough in this offseason to win a World Series, there is little doubt they are positioning themselves nicely for the future.

Just 10 days after signing first baseman Freddie Freeman to  a franchise record eight-year, $135 million contract, the Braves locked up their potential ace of the future. Julio Teheran, who in first full season evolved into one of the team’s premier starters, signed a six-year contract worth just over $32 million.

For an organization that has lost a number of legends and/or clubhouse staples through retirements or free agency over the last several years — Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson and Brian McCann recently; John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux before them– locking up Freeman and Teheran are two significant steps toward securing future stability.

There’s inherent risk with any big contract, and certainly any big contract that is given to a player so young (Freeman is 24; Teheran just turned 23). But Wren was justified in taking these financial leaps.

Freeman was the team’s most valuable player last year in only his third season, hitting .319 with 23 homers and driving in 109 runs. He has steadily improved and avoided prolonged slumps.

Teheran has shown he can be a top-of-the-rotation guys for several years. In his first full season, at the age of 22, he went 14-8 with 3.2o ERA in 30 starts. He struck out 170 and walked only 45 walks in 185.2 innings.

“We’ve been impressed with his approach, his make-up and his maturity,” said general manager Frank Wren, who made the announcement Friday as Braves’ pitchers and catchers were beginning their first official workout of spring training at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex. “He’s made great strides and we also saw him rise to the occasion in the biggest moments. It gave us confidence that he had the makeup and maturity to be a player we can count on for a long time.”

Teheran is less than seven years removed from being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Cartagena, Colombia at the age of 16. Suffice to say, signing his name on a paper that guarantees him a reported $32.4 million is not something that ever was in his mind.

“I feel happy, excited,” he said. “Now that I know my family is taken care of, I can go out and relax and try to have fun. But it’s not going to change the kind of pitcher I am.”

The Braves opted not to try to acquire a No. 1 starter this winter. But Teheran has that potential. He will compete in this camp with Kris Medlen and perhaps Mike Minor. But Wren avoided labels Friday when asked about Teheran’s future.

“We feel he has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation guy,” he said. “As far as throwing around numbers, I don’t know that that’s easy to quantify.”

The deal also includes a seventh-year option that could take Teheran through the 2020 season and the first two years of free agency. Yes, there is some risk. Teheran has been a full-time major-leaguer for only one season. But he just turned 23 years old and if he progresses as expected, and assuming what they’ve witnessed is not an aberration, the contract could amount to a relative bargain.

Wren said the organization has “identified a number of guys” he would like to sign long term but he didn’t identify the number. The safe assumption: shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Minor are next in line.

Right fielder Jason Heyward, another member of the team’s young core, recently signed only a two-year extension and therefore now seems destined to become a free agent after the 2015 season. That one could come back to bite Wren and the Braves.

Wren said Teheran’s deal was agreed to over a week ago but the team had to wait for him to return to the U.S. from Colombia to pass a physical and sign the contract.

Wren didn’t suggest there’s any imminence to other signings, saying only, “They could be done in the next couple of years. It’s not something we have to get done in 2014.”

But at least for the future, there are two less things for the Braves to be concerned about.

57 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Not many arguments against Wren's moves. He didn't trade the farm for a one year player.


What the Braves are now is all speculation and potential. Signing their young players to long term contracts is no different than signing a free agent that had a great year....last year. A lot of free agents are playing out their careers and you don't get the best out of them every day....until it's time to sign a new deal.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

Good signing.  Tehran has #1 or 2 talent, and he's going to get a little over $5mil/year.  Even if he only turns out to be middle rotation caliber - which I doubt - he's signed at a good price.  If he continues his improvement, he probably becomes a #1, in which case this deal is a bargain.


Uggla and BJ aside, I think Wren has done a good job for the most part.

GeorgiaSECFan
GeorgiaSECFan

Managements job is to draft, develop, coach, and teach players the teams philosophy.  Once players produce and prove they can help team become World Series Champions, management identifies these players and signs the stars to fair contracts for players and the team.  GM FW and Management have chosen the correct players and made decisions this fan agrees with whole heartedly.  1B Freddie Freeman is a Star, Julio Teheran can pitch at high level, Braves actually slowed him down a year or so.  Craig Kimbrel is best closer in game.  Forget the shredder on MLB Network.  Hitters will tell you they do not want any part of Brave Closer Kimbrel.  He is next signee.  Andrelton Simmons is best defender ever.  This year when he shows improved offense, Braves sign him.  That is four cornerstones to our long term success.  Freeman is foundation of power to our offense and he is great defensively also.  Teheran is foundation to our Starting Pitching.  Kimbrel foundation of our Overpowering, Power Pitching Bullpen, and Simmons is foundation to up the middle and overall defense, and he will keep improving offensively.  This should motivate Braves prospects and players to produce.  Management sending message we are building Winning Ball Club.  If you produce you will be added to team.  You get paid.  Go Braves!!!!!

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

All these long term signings recently have an additional purpose. Ownership wants to create a home grown "Mount Rushmore" to usher in the new Cobb Stadium.

They can't head into the 2017 season - the most important ever for this ownership - with contracts looming and doubt about their "faces". Freeman, now Julio. I'll bet by this time next year, they'll have 3-4 more guys locked up to usher in the Big Bossman era (pro wrestling reference, look it up).

Freddie, Julio, Andrelton, Minor and J Upton will be the poster boys of the "new era" of the franchise in their new digs. Maybe Heyward will get extended and one of these young guys (Bethencourt, Hale, JR Graham, LaStella) will get featured in the '17 opening day programs... But make no mistake - this flurry is about image as much as it is about winning.

WellsLane
WellsLane

Unfortunately I don't think we've made ourselves any better than last year.  I think we're depending on everyone else to be worse, and that's not gona happen~ .    

mcr144
mcr144

The front office is full of bone heads...you should have got pitching to match the dodgers..but oh well... enjoy one and done like always.

mcadams1977
mcadams1977

Braves will gradually become one of the worst teams in the NL East  because of their inability to keep their own players, due specifically to the terrible cable deal that John Scheurholz got the Braves into with Liberty Media. It will anchor down the team's financial capability for 2 more decades.

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

Simmons will be next, Heyward cant stay on the field to get a good read on what kind of numbers he can produce, Minor is another key piece that needs to be locked down, Justin will have to be more consistent & produce bigger numbers, Kimbrel would be great to keep if they dont run out of money!

BSNBC
BSNBC

Heyward will be a bust!

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

Excellent contract.  It sure would be nice to see them lock up Minor, too.   Having two solid, young starters is a really good place to lay a foundation for competitiveness over the next 5-8 years.   I wouldn't mind seeing Simmons or Heyward locked up to long-term contracts, either.

JChikara
JChikara

This is the kind of signing I like. There are players that the Braves absolutely, positively need to sign, and he was one of them. Now if they get Minor taken care of they have their lefty-righty top of the rotation order set for several years. I'd wait on Medlen and Beachy. Forget about Kimbrel, closers are a dime-a-dozen. Now they've got Freeman taken care of and eventually Simmons, that just leaves the biggest question mark of all, who gets resigned between Upton and Heyward? 

RodRod
RodRod

Schultz, you stated about Heyward only getting two years: "That one could come back to bite Wren and the Braves."


Seriously? How. Have you watched him the past two years? Once the league got used to him, his production has gone down. Do you honestly think the Braves should have given him a 6 year deal?


Yes or no - no kinda, sorta, etc - yes or no.

58Supersports
58Supersports

All of these long term deals would not  happen if Braves were not moving to Cobb Co. Good move...     Simmons is the cornerstone for the future, get it done next.

Go Braves!

RIP Joe Fregosi, prayers for family.

AHLong
AHLong

MichBravesFan - Heyward's deal was genius because when it runs out, Uggla's contract will be done too.  So, if Heyward turns into the real deal, the Braves have money to keep him, if not we can let Heyward go and bring in someone new.


Wren may be horrible at signing free agents, but his trades and management of the young player's contracts have been brilliant.  Frankly, I'm glad we didn't make a big signing in free agency!  

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

I have a feeling that some of the odd men out from the young core are Heyward and Kimbrel. I just have a hunch that they won't be around as long as some of the other young players. If only we could get rid of BJ's, Uggla's contracts. Hopefully Wren doesn't sign anymore free agents, ever. 

AHLong
AHLong

I was skeptical about giving a kid with one OK season and 3 more arbitration years a contract a long-term deal, but if these numbers are correct this is a steal for the Braves.


Averaging $5.33m/year is probably less than he would have gotten over the next three years if he was even an average starting pitcher.  And, if he crashes out, this isn't a huge loss to absorb.  But, if he does have the talent that he showed flashes of last year, this will be an absolute steal for the next three years.


Smart move by Wren.

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

Good signing, hopefully they'll extend Minor and Medlen. That's a solid rotation with Tehran. Next on the list should be extending Simmons. Give him a 10-year deal--I want to see him play his whole career in the ATL. I'm surprised at these signings, must be the influence of John Hart because Wren on his own wouldn't be doing this. He likes to save all his money to spend on players like BJ and Uggla. 

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

Good move.  This could turn out to be a really cheap buy in if he just maintains from last year.  If he gets better this is a steal.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Now,

good move. I'd hope they'd lock up Medlen and Minor, as well as Kimbrel, although I wouldn't go six years with him. Any of them, really. A lot can happen to an arm in six seasons.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Tea party...you're an embarrassment even to the Democrats, and nothing embarrasses them.

My guess is you've voted for Obama, Clinton and every other candidate that promises you a check in return for sitting on your butt all day watching Beverly Hillbillies reruns.

WhatUpCJgoodie
WhatUpCJgoodie

Good job to lock him down. Really waiting to here some Craig Kimbrel news though.  Give Kimbrel a 5 year deal. It gets thrown around a lot, but Kimbrel is truly a once in a generation closer. Imagine if Yankees had dumped Mariano Rivera after his 3rd or 4th season.


Frank Wren, please be smart about this. Braves lost many playoff games in 90s and early 2000s because we never had a great bullpen or closer. Now we have both. Continue to shorten the games vs teams with this outstanding pen.


Besides there are no positions that are of urgent need to fill on the team. Pay the man his money. He is clearly one of the best in all of baseball if not the best. He can be the Mariano Rivera of the Braves for the next 10 years.

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

@WellsLane  Which is why this young, talented, albeit flawed team can be projected to win anywhere between 88-92 games. Their win total will drop because everybody else in the division got better. But doesn't mean we won't compete. The 2014 Braves will be in the playoff mix all season.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

I'm pretty much OK with standing still, seeing as how the Braves won 96 games and the East last season with a bunch of kids and retreads and two veteran position players who were epic failures.

But nothing stands still year-to-year. The Braves, by my estimation, have a whole slew of young players who figure to get markedly BETTER in 2014.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Match the Dodgers? I would not trade the Braves staff for theirs, and they did not win the pennant!

TheMonger
TheMonger

@mcadams1977 So did I dream the Braves signing 3 of their young stars -Freeman, Heyward, and Teheran to multi-year deals, with "plans for many other young stars, according to Frank Wren", or are you just an idiot?  I'm leaning towards the latter.  Please read the article title before you post.  FAIL.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@mcadams1977  You know you're making this comment on a story announcing that the Braves just signed one of their youngest, best pitchers to a long-term deal?

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

@mcadams1977  I don't think that was a Scheurholz deal, or even a Braves deal -- it was a Time Warner deal that was foisted on the Braves.  

iamlistening
iamlistening

@BSNBC  I like the fact Teheran has been locked up for a good while. I also agree with everyone that is saying we need to wrap up Simba and Minor. If Heyward has a good year, it wouldn't surprise me if Wren doesn't try to hold talks with Heyward's agent (although free agency would be one year away). In regards to Medlen, I love the guy's approach. He reminds me of Maddux (great during the regular season but has a more difficult time during the post season). 

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

@AHLong I think J. Upton's contract will be up in 2 years as well. I wouldn't resign him, but we don't have many OFs in the minors. That will free up a ton of $. Free agents are overrated that's why we should keep all of our good young players. However, if Heyward has a great next 2 years, he'll probably command $20-$25 million per year and Braves simply won't be able to afford that even without Ugglys and J-Ups contracts off the books.  

JChikara
JChikara

@WhatUpCJgoodie  The Braves lost in the postseason because they had no one who could hit. Besides, didn't Atlanta lose Game 4 against the Dodgers because the supposed great bullpen couldn't shut down Juan Uribe of all people? Had the Braves gotten some clutch hitting (which is why the Yankees always won titles) then it would be a different story. Kimbrel can be let go and no one would bat an eyelash. 

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

@WhatUpCJgoodie  Absolutely do not give Kimbrel, or any other closer, a 5-year contract.  Closers are notoriously unreliable, and even the good ones don't give you many additional wins that you wouldn't have gotten with someone else.  I hate to bust closers' bubbles, but getting three outs with the bases empty is not the hardest thing in the world, and the many, many millions you would have to spend could be put to better use elsewhere.

reckingball
reckingball

@58Supersports @WellsLane Were the Braves bad last year?

I think that they were pretty darn good, especially with all of the many season ending injuries, plus Heyward on the DL twice, McCann starting late(along with his bat dying the last 6 weeks). And how about what amounted to a ball  and chain on each leg, in the form of the 2nd baseman and CFer, holding them back

What they really need is to hit better with RISP, that was their biggest problem, last year.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

I'd bet the over on 92, in a heartbeat.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@Tea-Party-Meber @BSNBC Who is a bust? Teheran is one of the hottest young pitchers in ML Baseball.  Joe Test are you a Braves fan.... all you do is cut them down. Get your facts right before running your mouth.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

 A functioning brain is required prior to attempting comments here. You obviously lack one.

MoFaux
MoFaux

@DaltonbywayofBickley @JChikara Neither are they worth $10 million +/year.  If you spend that kind of money on a good everyday player, or starting pitcher, you'll get much more for your money.  But, I love Kimbrel and wish he could be our Rivera.

AHLong
AHLong

You're right about Justin's contract.  But, JHey's going to have to have a helluva next two years to get that kind of money.  For example, even with Freddie's huge deal, he's averaging just under $17m/year and he got that after 3 seasons with +540 ABs, +20 Hrs and .290 BA.  Heyward has a long way to go to prove durability and consistency.  His first 4 seasons were good/ok/good/ok; now we'll get to see if he puts together two solid back to back seasons, we've got the inside track to give him a big deal in his prime at 26 yo when his current deal expires.  


The killer is BJ.  Having one free agent dud you can handle, but two is really a burden.  Hopefully, he can turn it around this year, but we're putting nearly a third of the salary budget to BJ and Uggla and getting NOTHING in return.  We'll see.  Hate this time of the year though; can't wait for opening day.

BannedPoster
BannedPoster

@JChikara @WhatUpCJgoodieThe Yankees won all of those titles not only because of clutch hitting, but also because the back end of that bullpen was untouchable.  They kept their team in it and those clutch hits happened. 

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

@MichBravesFan @LarvellBlanks @WhatUpCJgoodie  They probably would have done about the same, since they would have gotten someone else to close games.  Maybe they would have lost one World Series game they wouldn't have with Rivera, but not necessarily.  And don't forget, he did blow a World Series, and wasn't perfect.