Braves bid adieu to Giles, Reitsma
Veterans not tendered contracts before Tuesday night deadline
After their attempts to trade Marcus Giles proved unsuccessful, the Braves were forced to say goodbye to the former All-Star second baseman without the benefit of compensation.
Early Tuesday evening, the Braves announced that they wouldn't be tendering contracts to Giles and former closer Chris Reitsma. The two are now free agents and immediately have the right to negotiate with any Major League team.
"We have to make some financial decisions every year," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said of Giles. "This was one of those tough ones."
All Major League teams have until midnight ET on Tuesday to decide whether they'll tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Adam LaRoche and Oscar Villarreal, the only other Braves who fall within this category, will both be tendered a contract.
Giles, whose offensive production has slipped over the past three seasons, would have likely received a contract in the $6 million neighborhood for the upcoming season. With an $80 million payroll and the desire to put their emphasis on rebuilding their pitching staff, the Braves determined him to be expendable.
It's believed the Braves were very close to completing a deal last week at the Winter Meetings that would have sent Giles and LaRoche to the Orioles for second baseman Brian Roberts and right-handed pitcher Hayden Penn.
But there was very little other interest on the trade market for Giles, and that may have been because teams knew the Braves were going to be forced to non-tender him. These teams now can sign him to a cheaper contract and are able to acquire his services without having to trade any of their players.
Reitsma began 2006 as the team's closer and ended it by missing the final three months with an elbow injury that required surgery. Despite posting an 8.68 ERA and allowing opponents a .410 on-base percentage, he could have seen his salary rise above the $3 million mark.
Giles, who hit .262 with 11 homers and a .387 slugging percentage in 2006, could soon sign a contract with the Padres. If he does, he'll be able to play with his older brother, Brian, in their hometown of San Diego.
When Giles hit .316 with 21 homers, a .526 slugging percentage and .390 on-base percentage in 2003, he was a legitimate All-Star who was seemingly on the verge of becoming one of the game's top second basemen.
But since then, the 28-year-old Giles has experienced a steady decline in his offensive production. He struck out more than 100 times in each of the past two seasons and saw his on-base percentage drop to .341 last season.
Some hand ailments may have played a part in Giles' struggles in 2006. But this decline started before this past season. His highest slugging percentage since 2003 came in 2005, when he ranked fourth among National League second basemen with a .461 mark. He ranked just 10th in that category in 2006.
The Braves have said Reitsma, who had ulnar nerve transposition surgery in July, will be ready to begin pitching again sometime during Spring Training. Health concerns and last year's struggles could force him to sign a Minor League contract.
Schuerholz said the Braves are evaluating whether to bring Reitsma back at a lower cost.
Reitsma made 160 appearances during his first two years (2004-05), which accounted for almost half the amount of games his team played during that span.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.