Coming off a season during which he hit .239 with 11 homers and a .359 slugging percentage, Francoeur is asking the Braves for $3.95 million. The club has offered the 25-year-old right fielder a salary of $2.8 million.
The $1.15 million difference with Francoeur is the greatest the Braves have with any of their unsigned arbitration-eligible players. Their $2.35 million offer to Johnson is $950,000 less than the second baseman's request for $3.3 million.
After collecting 100 RBIs for a second successive season and winning his first National League Gold Glove Award in 2007, Francoeur entered the 2008 season with plenty of optimism. But his prolonged early struggles reached a point where the Braves decided to send him to the Minors for a weekend in early July.
Entering the 2008 season, Francoeur's career statistics included a .280 batting average, 62 homers and a .463 slugging percentage. Over the past two seasons, he has hit .267 with 30 homers, 176 RBIs and a .403 slugging percentage.
Johnson is coming off a season in which he produced career-high totals in batting average (.287), games (150), doubles (39), RBIs (69) and stolen bases (11). His 22-game hitting streak in September was the longest recorded in the NL during the 2008 season.
Kotchman, who combined to hit .272 with 14 homers and a .410 slugging percentage with the Braves and Angels last year, is requesting $3.25 million, which is $775,000 more than the $2.475 million offer made by Atlanta.
While avoiding arbitration with the Angels last year, Kotchman gained a $1.45 million salary for the 2008 season.
The $460,000 salary Francoeur drew in 2008 was slightly higher than the $430,000 figure provided to Johnson. This is the first time these two players have been eligible for arbitration.
The Braves will attempt to sign Francoeur, Johnson and Kotchman before reaching a point where an arbitrator would need to assign their respective 2009 salaries. Because they don't want to be highly critical of players in a public forum, most teams attempt to do whatever they can to avoid arbitration hearings.
Arbitration hearings for all eligible Major League players are scheduled from Feb. 1-21. Agreements can be reached up until the point that an arbitrator provides his ruling.