The Atlanta Braves made a pretty significant move on Wednesday morning, declining the opportunity to offer arbitration to free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez. The 36-year old Gonzalez has played with the Braves since mid-2010 and played stellar defense throughout his tenure.
The reason for declining arbitration is this: if Gonzalez were to accept it, Atlanta would be on the hook for the $3-5 million he would likely earn next season. This must have been more than the franchise envisioned spending on a shortstop next year, especially with there being talk of Tyler Pastornicky taking over the reins as early as Opening Day 2012.
This move likely signifies the end of the Gonzalez in Atlanta. He came over in the midst of a career-year, and while he wasn't able to continue his stellar play from Toronto, he still provided value to the team both on the field and in the clubhouse. There is still a chance he re-signs for cheap, but it would have to be for a figure much less than the $3 million the front office just turned down. He'll get a better offer elsewhere.
In my opinion, it looks like the Braves will now look for a veteran shortstop (Jack Wilson, maybe?) who will come cheap. This also indicates to me that Tyler Pastornicky has a good chance of being the starting shortstop sooner rather than later.
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