ATLANTA - There's two good reasons why Braves general manager John Schuerholz kept a tight rein on the budget this winter.
Agent Scott Boras and arbitration.
Four players - pitchers Kevin Millwood and John Rocker, center fielder Andruw Jones and second baseman Quilvio Veras - asked for a total of $12.17 million in raises Thursday as teams and players exchanged arbitration figures.
Kerry Ligtenberg settled earlier in the day, accepting a two-year, $2.9 million deal. He will make $1.2 million this year, a $945,000 raise, and $1.7 million next year. He can also make an addition $400,000 in incentives based on games finished.
Jones and Millwood, Boras clients, are seeking the biggest increases.
Jones, who made $3.7 million last year, asked for $8.2 million. The club offered $6.4 million. Millwood was paid $420,000 last season and he wants $3.9 million. The club countered with a $3.1 million offer.
Rocker wants to jump from a $290,000 salary to $2.98 million. The club offered $1.9 million. Veras, who missed the second half of the season with a knee injury, asked for a $1.5 million raise from his $3 million salary. The club offered $3.4 million.
The Braves have ended their relationship with Frank Casey, who handled the club's arbitration cases for many years, and have retained Los Angeles attorney Mark Rosenthal, who has 10 years of experience in arbitration.
The last Brave to go to arbitration was pitcher Steve Avery, who beat the club for $4.2 million in 1996 despite a 7-13 record and 4.67 ERA in 1995.
Speaking of Avery, he's a free agent and the Braves have made him an offer. The left-hander, who signed with the Braves last spring, but missed the season with arm problems, hasn't informed the team whether he'll return.
The Braves will have a crowded clubhouse this spring after inviting 16 non-roster pitchers and players to camp. Several young pitchers (Chris Cumberland, Matt McClendon, Christian Parra) will receive their first taste of big league camp, while three others (Joe Slusarski, Marc Valdes, Matt Whiteside) pitched in the majors last season and will be trying to win jobs in the bullpen.
The non-roster list of pitchers also includes Jake Robbins, 24, a right-hander who pitched for Class AA Norwich (3-5 record, 2.78 ERA in 48 games) in the Yankees' organization last year.
Slusarski and Valdes spent time with the Astros last season, while Whiteside, 33, split the season between the Padres and Class AAA Las Vegas. The right-hander was 2-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 28 games for San Diego, one win coming against the Braves on May 19, and was 2-5 with a 5.28 ERA in 23 appearances with Las Vegas.
Four catchers (Jean Boscan, Jesse Levis, Dax Norris and Steve Torrealba) and five infielders (Howard Battle, Chan Perry, Kurt Abbott, Travis Wilson and A.J. Zapp) also have been invited.
Levis played for Buffalo, the Indians' Class AAA affiliate last season, while Perry split time between the Indians and Buffalo. Battle, who was with the Braves in 1999, spent last season with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League and Louisville, the Reds' Class AAA team.
Ralph Henriquez, a coach with the Braves' Rookie Gulf Coast League team last season, has been promoted to manager at rookie advanced Danville.
The Braves, one of the first teams to scout and sign players in Australia, have dipped into the Aussie talent pool again.
The team has signed 17-year-old Perth shortstop Dean White, who some scouts consider the best position player to emerge from Australia since Craig Shipley.
White, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, will start his pro career in extended spring training and play in the Gulf Coast League this summer.
Tom Glavine, who won 20 games for the fifth time in his career last season, was named "Brave of the Year" in voting by the Atlanta chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
He received 10 of 19 votes, while Andruw Jones received eight votes and Rafael Furcal one.
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.
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