Posted December 2, 2013 05:39 pm

Braves decline to tender offers to 3

The Braves announced Monday they declined to tender contract offers to infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish and right-hander Cristhian Martinez.


Atlanta tendered a one-year contract to infielder Ramiro Pena prior to the midnight deadline for making decisions on tendering contracts.


The remaining arbitration-eligible players are Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Jordan Walden, Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer. All are expected to receive offers.


It was to be expected that the Braves would turn to Pena for their utility infielding duties in 2014. He was the best of the three when on the field, hitting .278/.330/.443 in 107 plate appearances this past season before going down with right shoulder surgery in June. Pena isn't the ideal defensive substitute off the bench, but being a defensive replacement in Atlanta means primarily second and third base, which Pena can handle better than shortstop.


There's a real possibility that the Braves could play Pena a good amount this coming season. They were high on him and gave him more than 100 plate appearances by June, and we could see more of the same at second base in 2014. Atlanta isn't set on Dan Uggla as the full-time guy at second, and Pena could get extended looks there.


None of this is set in stone. The Braves will have Tyler Pastornicky back from ACL surgery, and he could eventually enter the mix at second base. Prospect Tommy La Stella burned up Double-A this past season and the Arizona Fall League recently, and he could get a look in spring training. The Braves could even bring Johnson or Janish back on a lesser deal.


It just shows the Braves have options outside Uggla at second base. None of them are ideal or groundbreaking, but it's better than settling. If nothing changes between now and March, spring training could be interesting at the position. But there's always a chance Atlanta could do more before then.