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How Joe Jimenez Return to Atlanta Braves as a Free Agent Signing

The Atlanta Braves lost a couple of big relievers this offseason but have already brought one back in Pierce Johnson. Could Joe Jiménez be next?

The Atlanta Braves lost a couple of big relievers this offseason and have already brought one back in Pierce Johnson. Could Joe Jiménez be next?

While the Johnson signing made a lot of sense, and it wouldn’t be crazy to see Alex Anthopoulos bring back his set-up mate in Jiménez. The combination of Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter, Jiménez, and Johnson formed a pretty solid back-end of the bullpen down the stretch in 2023.

Those four guys, with Tyler Matzek coming back and hopefully a healthy Dylan Lee, would have the makings of a pretty solid bullpen. The Braves could also bring back Nick Anderson for cheap and Huascar Ynoa might be eased back in a bullpen role.

Jiménez likely will cost a little more considering his age and the fact he’s coming off back-to-back really good seasons. If the Braves could get him for 3 years at $8 million a year, with a fourth-year option and $1 million buyout that might get it done.

That would be nearly a $40 million commitment to four bullpen arms in 2024.

(In 2023, they invested $35 million in Iglesias, Minter, Yates, McHugh, and Jiménez, so AA and the Braves do not seem to be making an absurd amount of money on the bullpen.)

Atlanta relievers finished 10th in WAR last year, 11th in ERA, and 4th in K/9.

Minter led the group with 1.4 fWAR, followed by Iglesias, Jiménez, Johnson, and Minter with 0.5 fWAR or more. And for Johnson, that just includes the 23.2 innings he pitched with the Braves. They also all had a K/9 of 11 or better and a BB/9 under 3, which is what you want out of your bullpen arms.

Those four accomplished the task in 2023, even though they might not have the flame-throwing arms you see in other bullpens.

Running it back with relievers is never without risk because they have a high risk of falling off a cliff suddenly (see Collin McHugh in 2023). Nothing is ever certain when signing any pitcher.

Outside options at reliever

This offseason, a number of intriguing relievers, including Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel, and Aroldis Chapman, will be available via free agency.

Hader is in a tier of his own and it seems highly unlikely the Braves will sign a second reliever who will make more than $15 million a year.

A Kimbrel reunion makes some sense, but there are some signs of regression with him as he enters his age 36 season. Same could be said for Chapman.

Jiménez is in that next tier of available free-agent relievers and feels a lot safer.

Also, not that it should really be a motivating factor, but signing him for multiple years might make some feel better about giving up Justyn-Henry Malloy for just one year of Jiménez.

Of course, the Braves could do nothing else big in the bullpen, give some in-house guys like Daysbel Hernandez a shot, and then adjust during the season if it’s not working out. You can make the best plans for a bullpen to begin a year, but that can easily get blown up during a season with regression, injuries, etc.

It was a slow start to the year for Jiménez, but in the end, he was the guy the Braves traded for and it might have been enough for them to want to keep him around a little longer.

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