Franco, Mahay file for free agency

Braves' Franco, Mahay file for free agency

ATLANTA -- With the World Series having come to a close on Sunday, the free-agent period has now officially started. Julio Franco and Ron Mahay were among the many Major Leaguers who got a quick jump on the proceedings by filing for free agency on Monday.

So far, Franco and Mahay are the only Braves players to file for free agency. Andruw Jones, Tanyon Sturtze and Chris Woodward are expected to follow suit in the next few days.

The Braves are expected to decline Octavio Dotel's $5.5 million option for the 2008 season. Once they do, the right-handed reliever will have the opportunity to throw his hat into the free-agent ring.

Mahay, who was obtained with Mark Teixeira at this year's trade deadline, limited opponents to a .218 batting average in 58 combined appearances with the Rangers and Braves. The veteran left-handed reliever posted a 2.25 ERA in 30 appearances for Atlanta.

Franco rejoined the Braves after being released by the Mets in July. The 49-year-old first baseman, who remains committed to playing until he's 50, hit .222 in 90 combined at-bats with the Braves and Mets.

If Franco is back with the Braves next year, he'd likely have to sign a Minor League contract and earn a roster spot in Spring Training. He hit .333 (8-for-24) during his final seven games in July and then was designated for assignment to make room for Teixeira.

After accepting the assignment, Franco spent a portion of August staying sharp in the Braves' Minor League system. When he rejoined the Atlanta roster in September, a sore upper leg muscle limited him to just four more at-bats.

The Braves have already announced that Jones isn't a part of their plans for the 2008 season. Sturtze and Woodward aren't expected to return.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.