Roster Report: 11/17

The Braves' budget for 2005 is expected to be about the same as it was in 2004, which was roughly $80-82 million. Of that, 3B Chipper Jones will get $15 million, CF Andruw Jones will get $12.5 million, and RHP John Smoltz will get $12 million and possibly slightly more if he moves back into the starting rotation. That's half the budget right there.


DEPARTURES: OF Dewayne Wise was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Tigers.

BIGGEST NEEDS: Starting pitching, starting pitching, starting pitching. And a closer, if RHP John Smoltz moves back into the rotation. And a right fielder to replace free agent J.D. Drew, whose salary requirements assure his departure.

FREE AGENTS: RF J.D. Drew, 1B Julio Franco, RHP Russ Ortiz, RHP Jaret Wright, RHP Paul Byrd, RHP Antonio Alfonseca.

The Braves would happily re-sign them all, but they won't be able to. Drew is surely gone, given the salary he can command now that he has had a healthy season. Franco is indispensable, really, but he won't accept a minor league contract with the promise of making the Opening Day roster, as he did last year. The pitchers? Any of them can stay if they accept less money than they got this year.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: SS Rafael Furcal, 2B Marcus Giles, INF Mark DeRosa, RHP Chris Reitsma, RHP Juan Cruz.

Furcal and Giles can expect raises, given that they are the table-setters. Manager Bobby Cox and their teammates believe the offense starts with them. DeRosa, rehabbing from a torn right ACL, is not so lucky; his errors and lack of offense will keep his value down. Neither Reitsma nor Cruz has enviable numbers, but manager Bobby Cox relied on them both a lot -- too much, in Reitsma's case.

IN LIMBO: CF Andruw Jones continues to be the subject of trade rumors, but it would be a shock if the Braves moved him. Manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholz believe he is the premier center fielder in baseball, so why would they move him?

MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Mike Hampton will have offseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. INF Mark DeRosa is rehabbing following surgery to repair a torn right ACL.

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