The Atlanta Braves reached agreements on Friday with five players to avoid salary arbitration hearings. Jason Heyward, Eric O'Flaherty, Johnny Venters, Kris Medlen and Cristhian Martinez all signed deals, leaving Martin Prado the lone unsigned member of the team.
Heyward, as expected, received the largest bump in salary for the upcoming season. This was the first time Heyward was eligible for arbitration. The Braves right fielder will make $3.65 million this season, a significant jump for the Atlanta native, who combined to make just under $1.5 million during his previous three seasons in the Major League. Heyward finished the season with a .279 average, 27 home runs, and won a gold glove for his outstanding defense. It's highly likely that the Braves will open up talks for a long term contract sooner rather than later.
The other four contracts went to the Braves pitching staff. Eric O'Flaherty commanded a jump in salary from $895,000 to $4.32 million for the 2013 season. The veteran southpaw has quickly become a force in the Braves bullpen, finishing with a 1.31 ERA in 131 innings over the past two seasons. Johnny Venters struggled down the stretch, but still a valuable member of the bullpen, received a salary of $1.625 million. Kris Medlen and the Braves agreed on a salary of $2.6 million after posting a 0.97 ERA in the 12 starts he made last season.
There is still time for the Braves to work out a deal with Martin Prado before Friday's deadline. If they cannot reach a long term deal, Atlanta will head to an arbitration hearing with Prado.
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