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Braves don't tender Moylan, Conrad contracts

Braves don't tender Moylan, Conrad contracts

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Braves don't tender Moylan, Conrad contracts
ATLANTA -- In an announcement on Tuesday morning, after Monday's midnight ET deadline, the Braves declined to tender 2012 contracts to right-handed reliever Peter Moylan and infielder Brooks Conrad.

When asked about it during last week's Winter Meetings, Braves general manager Frank Wren said he met with Moylan's agent, Adam Katz, in November and told him that they would likely non-tender the reliever, with the intention of potentially re-signing him at a cheaper cost once there is more certainty surrounding his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Katz had not heard anything from the Braves to contradict this plan as of early Monday evening.

"I had a conversation with Frank in Milwaukee [during the General Managers Meetings], and he seemed pretty decisive," Katz said. "So I expect [Moylan] to be non-tendered."

If Atlanta had tendered Moylan a contract, it would have likely had to pay him approximately $2 million in 2012. The 33-year-old reliever is now a free agent and will have the opportunity to sign with any club.

Moylan's market will be better understood once he is able to start throwing and show teams how much he has progressed since undergoing surgery to repair a damaged labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Jair Jurrjens and Eric O'Flaherty are the Braves' only remaining arbitration-eligible players, and each was tendered a contract by Monday's deadline. Their respective salaries for 2012 will be determined via the arbitration process that will begin in January.

Moylan has served as a dependable reliever and popular figure since making his improbable rise to the Majors with Atlanta in 2006. But his future with the organization became clouded in September when he learned he needed to undergo shoulder surgery. He had already missed nearly five months of the season because of a ruptured disc that required him to undergo back surgery in May.

Noted surgeon James Andrews said Moylan would likely need four to six months of rehab following the shoulder surgery. This has given the Australian pitcher hope that he will be pitching during the early portion of the upcoming season.

While Wren is not willing to bet against Moylan's determination, he is not in a position where he can take this kind of financial gamble without knowing exactly how reliable the veteran reliever could be next year.

Moylan made his Major League debut with the Braves in 2006, the same year he was found while pitching for Team Australia during the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Before impressing with his sidearm delivery during the Classic, he had served as a pharmaceutical representative who played baseball on what was essentially a club team in his native Australia.

After making 80 appearances for the Braves in 2007, Moylan blew out his elbow in April '08 and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He returned earlier than expected and set a franchise record with 87 appearances in '09. He fell just short of matching that total when he made 85 appearances in '10.

Conrad's days in Atlanta will most often be associated with the defensive nightmare he experienced after being forced into an everyday role during the final days of the 2010 season. Conrad committed three errors, including a decisive one in the ninth inning of a disheartening loss to the Giants in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

But Conrad certainly enjoyed a number of memorable moments while spending the past two years as one of Atlanta's top pinch-hit options. His walk-off grand slam against the Reds on May 20, 2010, erased a six-run ninth-inning deficit and capped one of the greatest comeback victories in Braves history.

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

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