The Atlanta Braves have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with right-handed reliever Jordan Walden. The deal will include an invitation to big league spring training. He will receive a $1 million base salary in the majors and an additional $2 million in available incentives, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo.
Walden, almost 29 years old was part of the Heyward trade from two offseasons ago, and pitched just 10 and 1/3 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals, all coming in 2015, therefore Walden is returning for a second tenure as a Brave. Walden had his club option for $5.75 million declined last week. His first tenure was a successful one as he posted 97 innings of 3.15 ERA ball posting an outstanding 10.8 K/9 and a 2.80 FIP. A return to a familiar environment might be a good thing for Walden to facilitate a rebound.
The Braves’ bullpen features mainly out of options middle relievers including Jose Ramirez and Ian Krol, both of whom pitched very well in 2016 and are likely locked into spots for 2017. The competition for the final two spots is abundant. Righty Josh Collmenter who was just extended for 2017, may be used in a starting capacity depending on how Wisler, Jenkins and other youngsters look in spring training.
Shae Simmons, Dan Winkler and Jason Hursh come into Spring Training with minor league options. Sam Freeman comes in as a non-roster invitee, and may have an edge as the only other lefty is Krol. A trade or two cannot be ruled out, however.
Walden will need to be on his A-game in order to earn a spot in the competitive Braves’ bullpen. If he does, in fact earn a spot, he could serve as a very solid, and inexpensive trade chip at the deadline, assuming the Braves are out of contention by then.