Braves non-tender Janish, E. Johnson, Martinez
Club avoids arbitration with Pena; nine others receive contract before deadline
ATLANTA -- Paul Janish and Elliot Johnson provided some valuable contributions after the Braves pushed them into starting roles at times over the past two seasons. But the two backup infielders might now be looking for a new employer.
The Braves tendered contracts to nine unsigned arbitration-eligible players before Monday's deadline and announced that infielder Ramiro Pena has avoided the arbitration process by agreeing to the terms of a one-year contract.
Janish, Johnson and right-handed reliever Cristhian Martinez were the club's only arbitration-eligible players who were not tendered contracts for the 2014 season. Each of these players is now a free agent.
The nine arbitration-eligible players who were tendered contracts were Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Mike Minor, Jason Heyward, Jordan Walden, Chris Johnson, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Jordan Schafer. The Braves will work to sign each of these players before salary-arbitration figures have to be exchanged Jan. 17.
Over the past few years, the Braves have become recognized as a "file and trial" club. This means if they do reach the point where they exchange arbitration figures, they will do so with the plan to go to an arbitration hearing that would determine the respective player's salary for the 2014 season.
The Braves have not gone to such a hearing since 2001 (John Rocker). They were set to do so with Martin Prado before he was traded to the D-backs last year.
Janish appears to be the one member of this year's non-tender group who the Braves could attempt to bring back at a cost lower than the $725,000 salary he earned each of the past two seasons. The soft-spoken Texan has proven to be a highly skilled defender with little offensive potential, as his .572 career OPS will attest.
Elliot Johnson made a good impression after the Braves claimed him off waivers from the Royals in late August. The easygoing and comical veteran infielder hit .261 with a .676 OPS in 102 plate appearances for Atlanta. He replaced Dan Uggla as the club's everyday second baseman in early September and held that role through the postseason.
But with Johnson set to gain a salary that would have exceeded $900,000, the Braves decided they already have enough depth in terms of backup infielders. Tyler Pastornicky, Pena and possibly Tommy La Stella could fill the same role that would have been assigned to Johnson.
Martinez made just two appearances before right shoulder discomfort sidelined him in early April and eventually forced him to undergo season-ending surgery. The 31-year-old reliever compiled a 3.63 ERA while combining to make 100 appearances for the Braves during the 2011 and '12 seasons. The Braves paid him $749,750 this past season.
The Braves also formally announced that they have avoided arbitration with Jonny Venters by signing him to a one-year contract. Venters, who is expected to return from Tommy John surgery in June, confirmed this signing on Nov. 13.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.