Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors released their annual list of non-tender candidates. These are players that teams decide to move on from instead of offering them a contract and entering the arbitration process. On the list were three Braves — Luke Jackson, Grant Dayton, and Johan Camargo. I don’t imagine the Braves would non-tender any other arbitration-eligible players. The deadline for these decisions is December 2nd, so let’s take a look at why Atlanta might be willing to let go of the three guys on MLB Trade Rumors’ list.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Jackson’s arbitration number to be $1.9 million. That’s quite hefty considering he wasn’t even a part of the Braves playoff roster, and that was with 28-men rosters. However, Jackson was the Braves best reliever just two seasons ago. In 2019, he didn’t deserve the hate he received; he was a good pitcher with a bad wrap. However, he was brutal in 2020, posting an unsightly 6.84 ERA over 26.1 innings. Typically, I could see the Braves giving Jackson another chance at this price. However, with an already deep bullpen and plenty of financial uncertainty, they will probably choose to non-tender him.
Dayton’s 800k projected price-tag is basically league-minimum. The Braves don’t save much money by moving on from him, but they may feel they don’t need him. As I’ve already said, Atlanta’s bullpen is loaded with arms, and there will be more on the way. Sean Newcomb could easily take over Dayton’s long-relief role. I would understand if the Braves went in that direction, but I’m not sure if I see them letting Dayton walk for less than $1 million. Even though his FIP was much higher (4.01), he maintained an ERA of 2.30 in 27.1 innings. It is a bit of a toss-up. I would like to see Dayton back, but it would be understandable for the Braves to move on.
This is the most interesting of the three names MLB Trade Rumors listed. Two years ago, Camargo was coming off a season in which he smacked nearly 30 doubles and had 19 homers in just 134 games. He also played fantastic defense at the hot corner, resulting in a 3+ WAR season. That would have sold 99% of teams that Camargo was the third baseman of the future, but Atlanta was given an opportunity they could not pass up the following offseason.
The Braves brought in Josh Donaldson on a one-year deal, and he had an incredible 2019 campaign. The plan was for Camargo to become a super-utility man that could play all over and be used as a weapon off the bench, but that vision never came to fruition, and he hasn’t been the same since. In 2020, he found himself playing in only 35 games and spending most of his time at the alternate site. That could be a sign of the Braves giving up on him for good, and it’s certainly worth considering him as a non-tender candidate. I’m just not sure the front office is completely convinced he cannot provide any value.