The Atlanta Braves announced Tuesday that they declined to tender contracts to injured pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. Both players went down to Tommy John surgery, the second of their careers, in spring training before last season.
Medlen and Beachy are now free agents. If the Braves had tendered contracts to the arbitration-eligible players, the offered salaries would have had to have been at least 80 percent of their 2014 salaries. Medlen's minimum offer would have been $4.64 million, while Beachy's would've been $1.16 million.
Both pitchers missed the entire 2014 season while recovering from their second Tommy John surgeries. Medlen went down for the year during spring training in early March, while Beachy followed several days later.
Medlen underwent his initial Tommy John surgery late in the 2010 season and returned late in 2011. Beachy had his first operation in June 2012 and returned in July the following season. It's unclear when each player will be able to return next season, though it likely won't be until at least May for either.
According to MLB.com, the Braves will still attempt to sign the pitchers as free agents, likely to low-risk, incentive-laden contracts, but Medlen is unlikely to return to the team.
Medlen, 29, broke into the majors in 2009, largely as a reliever. After returning from his first Tommy John surgery, Medlen recorded a 1.50 ERA in 12 starts and 50 total games in 2012 and went 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA in 2013.
Beachy, 28, went 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA in his first full season in 2011 and had a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts in 2012 before having surgery. He pitched in just five games upon his return in 2013.
Atlanta has had an active offseason thus far. The team traded outfielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis for starting pitcher Shelby Miller last month and have since been linked to free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester, Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas (who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks) and a potential trade with the Oakland A's involving catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis and outfielder Justin Upton.
The Braves went 79-83 last season and finished in a tie for second in the National League East. General manager Frank Wren was fired in September and replaced by John Hart, first on an interim basis and then full time in October.
- Ben Estes