Kris Medlen is reported to have signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves. The contract is for one year and does not include an invite to spring training. While he is a name that all of Braves Country knows and loves, this sign will more than likely not have a meaningful impact. Melden was one of the franchise’s brightest young stars before being plagued with two Tommy John surgeries. Medlen will spend spring training working on his mechanics and building arm strength in hopes of revitalizing his career with his former team. Before the arm injuries, Medlen went 41-25 with a 3.25 ERA with the Braves. However, his career has been derailed ever since his second tommy john surgery and hopes to have one more shot with the Atlanta Braves before deciding to retire.
The chances of Medlen making the team out of Spring Training are slim to none. Presumably, you can pencil in Julio Teheran, R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia and Mike Foltynewiicz as the starting rotation to begin the season. Barring any trades, you still have Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair and Sean Newcomb as the most likely candidates to be early season call ups. Medlen will have to fight to prove he can stay healthy and produce. Since returning from his second tommy john surgery, Medlen went 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in 6 Major League starts in 2016 with the Royals. He was also plagued with shoulder injuries during the 2016 season which limited his innings and should be a cause for concern for the Braves.
Medlen’s health will be the main focus heading into the 2017 season. Realistically, he is a low cost, high reward player with tremendous upside if he can stay healthy. The Braves have repeatedly said that they do not want pitchers that will block the progress of any of the new pitchers they got via trade or the draft. Realistically, if Medlen can stay healthy he is a great option to have at Triple-A to mentor the upcoming pitchers and possibly slide into the rotation near the trade deadline if the Braves trade any of their veterans they acquired this offseason. Medlen will have a lot of eyes on him and his health as the season nears, but one thing is for sure, he has full support from all of Braves Country.