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Outfielder JD Drew and pitchers Russ Ortiz and Antonio Alfonseca were not offered salary arbitration, meaning none of the three can re-sign with the Braves until May 1, 2005. Presumably, all three will find reasonable deals elsewhere before one month of the 2005 season has passed.
The Braves did offer arbitration to Julio Franco and pitchers Jaret Wright and Paul Byrd. But Wright signed a deal with the New York Yankees worth $21 million over three years, meaning the Braves only have hope of keeping two of their six free agents this offseason: Franco and Byrd.
Losing both Russ Ortiz and Jaret Wright could mean a return to the starting rotation for John Smoltz, but I believe Bobby Cox will tap Jose Capellan as the Braves' fifth starter, who will join John Thomson, Mike Hampton, Horacio Ramirez, and Byrd in the Braves' 2005 rotation. Smoltz will probably resume his role as one of the game's most dominant closers.
Meanwhile, rumors suggest that Atlanta may be close to a deal with Jermaine Dye, who would probably cost much less than Drew would have.
Now that arbitration deadline has passed, let the offseason mayhem begin.