The Braves signed catcher Tuffy Gosewisch to a one-year, $635,000 contract Wednesday, two days before a deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players or make them non-tendered free agents.
Gosewisch had been projected to make about $600,000 in arbitration by the website MLBTradeRumors.com. He was claimed off waivers Nov. 18 from Arizona to provide major league-ready catching depth for the Braves.
Having already signed pitcher Josh Collmenter to a one-year contract, the Gosewisch signing left the Braves with six remaining arbitration-eligibles including Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, catcher Anthony Recker and relievers Arodys Vizcaino, Chris Withrow and left-handers Ian Krol and Paco Rodriguez.
Gosewisch, 33, had a .199 average, three homers and a .513 OPS in 126 games (416 plate appearance) over parts of four seasons with Arizona. He’ll likely be assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett to start the 2017 season.
In 58 games at Triple-A Reno in 2016, he hit .342 with nine homers and a .952 OPS in 219 plate appearances.
For any of the remaining arbitration-eligibles not signed (or traded) before Friday, the Braves must decide whether to tender a contract. If a player is tendered, the team can either continue to negotiate a salary or have his salary set during an arbitration hearing that would be held in February. If non-tendered, he can sign with any team.
There’s little or no suspense regarding Inciarte, whom the Braves say they have no intention of trading and who’ll be a relative bargain whether he signs a deal or goes to arbitration.
Inciarte won a Gold Glove and hit .291 with a .351 OBP in his third major league season and first with the Braves, who got him from Arizona along with shortstop Dansby Swanson and pitching prospect Aaron Blair in a December 2015 trade for Shelby Miller.
Projected arbitration salaries for the remaining Braves arb-eligibles, according to MLB Trade Rumors: Inciarte $2.8 million, Vizcaino $1.6 million, Recker $1 million, Krol $1 million and Rodriguez $900,000.
The Braves also will presumably sign or tender Vizcaino, who could be a setup man or Plan B closer in 2017, and Krol, their top returning lefty reliever. And barring a move to sign or trade for another catcher before Friday, the Braves could be expected to tender a contract to Recker, the incumbent candidate to split catching duties with Tyler Flowers.
The tender/non-tender decisions aren’t quite as clear for the others on the list, given the post-Tommy John surgery elbow issues experienced by Withrow and Rodriguez.
Withrow had a 3.58 ERA in 46 appearances for the Braves in 2016 and was solid for much of the season, but only pitched in seven games after Aug. 4 and missed the final two weeks with elbow soreness.
Rodriguez missed the entire season recovering from September 2015 elbow surgery and last pitched on May 29, 2015, two months before he was traded by the Dodgers to the Braves.