Heyward a bargain at $496,500

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Jason Heyward signed a one-year contract Tuesday that gave  him the highest salary ever for a Braves player with only one year of service.

But at $496,500, it was still quite a bargain for an All-Star right fielder.

Heyward, the National League Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2010, was among 21 Braves signed to one-year deals on Tuesday. All had fewer than three years of service and were not eligible for arbitration, and many had no major league service.

Among the other notables who signed were left-handed reliever Jonny Venters, who had a 1.97 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 83 innings as a rookie in 2010; right-hander Kris Medlen, and infielder Brooks Conrad, one of the Braves’ best clutch hitters off the bench last season.

Heyward, 21, spent the entire season in the majors and hit .277 with 18 homers, 72 RBIs and a .393 on-base percentage that was one of the highest in history for a player so young.

Until players become eligible for arbitration, they have no leverage in contract talks, and teams usually award only modest raises. But exceptional players are sometimes signed to lucrative, long-term contract extensions before reaching arbitration, and no one would be surprised if the Braves approach Heyward with such an offer within the next year.

Venters signed for $429,500, and first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had a September callup, got the major-league minimum $414,000 salary. Most others on the list got the minimum or slightly above. The Braves did not announce salary figures.

The major league minimum salary was raised this year, from $400,000 in 2010.

Others who signed Tuesday included right-handers Jairo Asencio, Juan Abreu, Brandon Beachy, Erik Cordier, Randall Delgado, Cory Gearrin, Craig Kimbrel, Stephen Marek and Anthony Varvaro; lefties Lee Hyde, Mike Minor and Jose Ortegano; infielder Brandon Hicks, and outfielders Joe Mather, Jordan Schafer and Matt Young.

Most will receive the major-league minimum (or slightly above) on a prorated basis for time spent with the big-league Braves, and significantly less for time in the minor leagues in 2011.

33 comments Add your comment

chem

February 22nd, 2011
4:57 pm

He’ll retire a multi-millionaire.

ramblingman

February 22nd, 2011
4:59 pm

Cue the whiners about Chipper’s salary in 3…2…1…

Nick

February 22nd, 2011
5:05 pm

Ramblingman, Ooooh that’s rich!

Sam in SC

February 22nd, 2011
5:07 pm

So do these 1-year deals mean that these guys could move elsewhere after this year? Heyward always seemed like he was happy at home in Atl, just kind of surprised me that he wouldn’t want to lock in a better deal…

ramblingman

February 22nd, 2011
5:08 pm

No, they are not automatically eligible to move on (free agency) after one year

Daniel

February 22nd, 2011
5:10 pm

Why don’t they go ahead and give him a long deal? Everyone knows that they eventually will.

ramblingman

February 22nd, 2011
5:13 pm

Nobody said they weren’t working on it. Also, it takes two to do the cha-cha, and perhaps Heyward is holding off in order to drive up the price after another good year or two.

Just some things to consider before assuming the team won’t sign him long term

Philly is on Top

February 22nd, 2011
5:15 pm

Trade this guy, he Choked in the playoffs. A future Andrew Jones

El Bravo

February 22nd, 2011
5:18 pm

These second year players (including Heyward) are not eligible for arbitration for another two years and, thus, they do not become free agents for another five. Heyward is not going anywhere…

El Bravo

February 22nd, 2011
5:20 pm

You can become a free agent after six years after 6 years of service on the 25-man major league roster. The Braves have plenty of time to sign him to a long-term contract.

vermont 39

February 22nd, 2011
5:30 pm

How about letting him earn it first…can you say Frenchy????

ATL FAN

February 22nd, 2011
5:47 pm

He has earned it… he’s given a whole new hope for this franchise

BoroBall3

February 22nd, 2011
5:51 pm

I like Gary Lee Hyde… but he might be a great trade chip too soon

@fauxfrankwren

February 22nd, 2011
6:03 pm

How about them negotiating skills? Another win for Frank Wren.

extremus

February 22nd, 2011
6:07 pm

My gut feeling is that Heyward will have a MONSTER season this year that, unfortunately foreshadowing for Braves fans come a few years from now, will resemble Albert Pujols as he took off early in his career. The Braves would be very wise to lock him down ASAP if/when he displays those kinds of numbers. With the strength having returned to his swing, I look for some truly gargantuan home runs as well as much better overall numbers this year for Heyward.

Venters’ not yet having signed is a bit of a concern. The guy obviously knows he’s positioned himself to be a hot commodity pretty soon; I hope he too will choose to settle down and make Atlanta home.

Unless the MLBPA gets done to it what is happening to other unions in our country right now, baseball is headed to a point where it will be unwatchable soon. Even medium-market teams like the Braves could well end up seeing their best young talent spend the majority of the careers playing for the larger market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Phillies when they hit free agency; if it could happen to St. Louis, “the best baseball town in America” and their most beloved player, you can bet it will happen here as well.

GT Alum

February 22nd, 2011
6:23 pm

Daniel -

Both sides have to agree to a long term contract. Considering he’s not going to be eligible for free agency for 5 more years, Heyward may want to wait and see how the market develops and put up some bigger numbers. Salaries are likely to only increase over the next few years, so, unless the Braves go ahead and offer him a huge contract, there’s no reason for him to sign a long term deal now. The only way it would help him is if he suffers a major injury or pulls a Francouer.

sheeesh

February 22nd, 2011
7:19 pm

It’s simple. The Braves don’t pay him much above the minimum right now because they don’t have to. It’s called leverage and, for now, Heyward has none. On the flip side, once a player becomes a free agent, then the player has most of the leverage.

As Heyward moves closer to being arbitration-eligible (after the 2012 season), the Braves will decide if he is worth the risk of signing him to a longer term deal sooner than later.

joedub

February 22nd, 2011
7:53 pm

so I know he has to have 6 years until he’s a free agent, right? but what happens next year now?assuming they don’t sign him long term, do they just work out another one-year deal?

johnBRAVES

February 22nd, 2011
8:02 pm

Do half the people on here even realize how this stuff works? He can’t leave for a good while folks, and by we will have him locked up before he even gets a chance to leave.

K Conway

February 22nd, 2011
8:18 pm

He will be sent down to the minors before the All-Star Break! Bank on it !!

Mark

February 22nd, 2011
9:13 pm

All you Braves haters and Philthy fans, Heyward is probably better than your outfielder.

Woudln’t be suprised if strikeout machine Ryan Howard has 300+ strikeouts this season.

Hahaha Heyward will be 10x better than Ryan Howard.
PS- Phillies bullpen will choke this whole season.

TheAntiMe

February 22nd, 2011
9:35 pm

I think it’s a no-brainer that the Braves will offer J. Heyward a multi-year contract along the lines of what they offered to B. McCann and J. Francoeur in their early non-arbitration years. I think that the good news for Braves fans (and bad news for Phillies fans) is that Heyward will most likely follow the path of B-Mac and accept a multi-year deal as opposed to Frenchy who was holding out hoping for a monster year in hopes of scoring an even bigger pay day down the road.

We all know how that turned out.

hansee

February 22nd, 2011
10:43 pm

No head first sliding fredi

matt r

February 22nd, 2011
10:50 pm

Fangraphs values his 2010 numbers at about $20 million. So yeah.

DerekZ

February 22nd, 2011
10:52 pm

Wow, having Heyward at that price it totally DOUBLE PITS TO CHESTY.

Heyna

February 22nd, 2011
11:24 pm

If I were in charge of the money, I’d like to see Heyward’s post power-sucking thumb injury performance before signing him long term. He definitely has the talent to be the face of the franchise and be paid accordingly. I think the front office knows what they’re doing and will keep the books clean enough for that long term deal, whenever it comes.

AthensBrave

February 23rd, 2011
7:49 am

Why don’t we just go ahead and sign J-Hey to about a 15 year contract and get it over with.

ramblingman

February 23rd, 2011
8:06 am

derekz, please try to learn a new urban phrase of the week. Expand the vocabulary.

k conway – I’ll take that bet. Name the stakes.

possum

February 23rd, 2011
10:28 am

Wren is doing some good things with the club this year. Cannot wait for opening day. And to the philly. Fans stop hating. You know j hay is biting his nails at the chance to get to the super 4

KDAWG

February 23rd, 2011
10:45 am

“The major league minimum salary was raised this year, from $400,000 in 2010 to $414,000″….What a crock of S–t.

ramblingman

February 23rd, 2011
11:51 am

Just out of curiousity, why is that a crock?

jwilli120

February 23rd, 2011
3:54 pm

the braves will be fine just you wait and see!
GO BRAVES!!!!!!! form a fan in SAVANNAH, looking
forward to getting to the TED.

[...] 4. The $496,500 contract that Jason Heyward signed with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday might not sound like much, but it’s the most money the team has ever given a player with only one year of big league service. AJC  [...]

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