article recently talking about just this.That is the question that is in the back of all of our minds heading into this season. I for one can't imagine and don't want to imagine Andruw wearing anything other than a tomahawk across his chest. This Curacao native broke into the majors and has been a staple in center with his dazzling play for the past 11 (yes, it has been 11) seasons. We all know the story of how he negotiated a deal after the 2001 season with his father instead of agent, Scott Boras. That was a below-market deal that he claims will not happen again. SI.com had an
In an interview Tuesday with SI.com, Jones talked glowingly about being a Brave and spoke longingly about wanting to be one of those few players who never leaves his first team. Rather hopefully, he said he didn't know what Braves ownership will do about his contract situation. But he should know this: They won't come anywhere near Jones' "market value," which is what all free agents think about. "I would love to stay with the Atlanta Braves. But everyone knows how the market is out there, and everyone is trying to get market value. So why shouldn't I get market value?" Jones told SI.com. "I'm looking for a contract that will keep me here. And if it doesn't happen, someone else will give me the money."That means John Schuerholz is going to have to come up with some major money to offer him the $17-20 million a year he and Boras will probably ask for. The thing is that there are plenty of options to get that money, it is just whether Schuerholz feels that Andruw would be a better investment than two very good players he could get with the same amount of money. Basically, Schuerholz will need to come up with the $3.5-5.5 million to make up the difference between the $13.5 million he is making in his final year and the kind of money he is looking for. There are a couple option as to where that money comes from. If I had to bet, I'd say this is Tim Hudson's last season in Atlanta. This is the last year before his contract jumps from $4 million all the way to $13 million for the next two years. If he is the same Hudson as last year, it will be a salary dump; if it is the good Hudson, then we pick up some good prospects. I woul absolutely love to move Hampton and his ridiculous salary, but there isn't much of a market for a pitcher who has just come off Tommy John surgery and is making that much. I think one of the most probable scenarios is that the Braves don't re-sign Wickman at the end of the season. We have two even more dominant relievers and a†too many young guys waiting for a shot in the bigs to warrant dishing out $6.5 million for a reliever. We don't really know how the pending sale to Liberty Media is going to affect the Braves payroll. While the CEO made a comment about his goal for the Braves being to beat the Mets at a stockholder meeting, the Braves were still a piece seemingly included to get rid of the Taxes. If they could give Schuerholz at least a bit of breathing room until after 2008, then Jones will be a Braves. After 2008, Hampton (don't think they'll be picking up his $20 million option),† Renteria, and Chipper Jones all have expiring contracts. The only buyout we have is $6 million for Hampton with the Red Sox picking up Renteria's $3 million buyout. Renteria will probably be gone with the middle infield depth in the organization, Hampton will be gone, and I think Chipper will take a significant pay cut if his injuries continue. That leaves us with at least an extra $23 million (how nice that will be). It is just a question of whether Liberty will allow Schuerholz to tack on another $4 million until then. Right the Braves are paying a bit more than $80 million without the money that Boston is paying towards Renteria, so if they just hike the total up to $85 million that might work. Most people's bet is that Andruw doesn't return to Atlanta next season with the Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers as the most mentioned suitors for his services. Schuerholz might have to choose betwee Smoltz and Jones at the end of season, and Smoltz is the more valuable commodity to this team. I am one of the few who thinks we will re-sign Andruw; just a gut feeling.