Braves unlikely to tender contract to Jurrjens
Reliever Moylan also non-tender candidate in advance of Friday deadline
ATLANTA -- As Jair Jurrjens prepared to participate in the 2011 All-Star Game, there was some reason to wonder if he would serve as the National League's starting pitcher. Sixteen months later, it appears the Braves have no other choice but to part ways with Jurrjens without receiving any compensation.
Barring an unforeseen development on the trade front, Jurrjens will not be tendered a contract before Friday night's deadline. That will make Jurrjens a free agent and put him in position to attempt to resurrect his career with another Major League club.
All teams have to tender contracts to each of their arbitration-eligible players before Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The only Braves players who are likely to be non-tendered are Jurrjens and veteran reliever Peter Moylan, who has missed most of the past two seasons while recovering from surgical procedures on his back and right shoulder.
While there is no doubt that Jurrjens will be pitching elsewhere next year, there is a chance the Braves could non-tender Moylan and then bring him back with a Minor League contract similar to the one he signed last year.
Jurrjens led the Braves with 13 wins during his impressive rookie season in 2008 and then posted a 2.60 ERA while winning 14 of his 34 starts in '09. Everything seemed to be heading in the right direction until Jurrjens injured his shoulder making an awkward throw while completing a fielding drill before the start of Spring Training 2010.
After struggling through much of the 2010 season, Jurrjens missed the final two weeks and the playoffs because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. The ailment was surgically repaired in November, and Jurrjens missed just the first two weeks of the 2011 season.
Though his velocity was down a little, Jurrjens went 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA in the 16 starts he made leading into the 2011 All-Star break. But that would mark the end of his successful days in Atlanta.
Jurrjens has compiled a 6.42 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .328 against him in the his last 18 appearances (17 starts). With the knee proving to be a constant problem after the 2011 All-Star Game, he was never able to regain the promise he had during the early days of his career.
After watching Jurrjens struggle through Spring Training and four April starts, the Braves sent him to Triple-A Gwinnett for two months. Jurrjens proved effective during his first four starts back at the Major League level. But after allowing at least six runs in both of his first two starts after the All-Star break, he was placed on the disabled list with what was termed "a strained groin" for the remainder of the season.
Moylan has created an incredible story since gaining notice while pitching for Australia in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Before suddenly developing a plus-fastball with an effective sidearm delivery, he had been employed as a pharmaceutical representative in his native Australia.
Moylan spent a little time at the big league level with the Braves in 2006 before making 80 appearances in '07. After missing most of the 2008 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, he showed his determination in making a franchise-record 87 appearances for the Braves in '09. He followed that up with 85 appearances in 2010.
After missing most of the 2011 season while recovering from back surgery, Moylan was forced to undergo shoulder surgery and miss most of this past season. He did recover in time to post a 1.80 ERA in the eight appearances he made after being placed on Atlanta's expanded roster in September.
While there is a chance the Braves will invite Moylan back with a Minor League contract, the progress that right-hander Cory Gearrin made in 2012 does create at least some reason to wonder if Moylan will return to Atlanta.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.