Braves Options Guy

Adam Duvall: A T1D Story

Adam Duvall has 79 HR since the start of 2016 – that’s more than Bryce Harper. He has 263 RBI since then as well, 10th most in the majors. He has a top 25 in MLB ISO (Isolated Power: SLG – AVG) over the last 2-1/2 seasons – .233, same as Manny Machado. He has an All-Star game selection and a Home Run Derby semi-final appearance. He has 2 Gold Glove finalist selections.

He also has diabetes.

No, not the kind your grandpa gets because he’s old and overweight. Not the kind of diabetes that Wilford Brimley refers to as “diabeetus” in those commercials from the 90s that came on during The Price is Right. That’s Type-2 diabetes. Adam Duvall has Type-1 diabetes (T1D), also known as juvenile diabetes, and so do I. Here’s my T1D story:

I was in my 4th semester at Georgia Tech. It was a Monday and I was returning to campus from my girlfriend’s house at Auburn. It had been another sleepless night b/c I had gotten up to pee at least 4 times. I was thirsting so badly that I had to stop twice on the drive back to get sodas/sports drinks from convenience stores. I would down them in the first mile back on the road.

I parked where I usually do, near the ME building, and walked completely across campus to my class (I don’t remember what the class was, it was in a building near the library). It was less than a 10 minute walk, but I felt like I had just run a marathon. One of my friends was in my class and said “Man, you look like hell.” I said I didn’t feel great either & wasn’t sure what was up. He said I should go to the infirmary and I said I would after class.

I struggled thru class, barely able to concentrate. My vision was blurry and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, I was so exhausted. I’d lost a bunch of weight since finals the previous semester – something like 35 pounds in 3 months. I just thought it was stress that was screwing up my eating habits. After class, I made the trek back across campus towards the infirmary, stopping along the way at a vending machine in the ME building for a Powerade. I chugged it down and headed up the hill to the clinic.

Before I could make it up the hill (just a few minute walk), I had to step off the sidewalk and I threw up the entire bottle of Powerade I had just downed. I got to the infirmary, told them I didn’t feel well, described my symptoms, and they said that I was just exhausted and needed to get some rest. I said I had just thrown up outside the building and they said “That changes things, we’ll check you out.” They had me pee in a cup and then I waited in a room. A few minutes later, the nurse came in and said “We think you have diabetes. You should go to the ER at Piedmont Medical Center.”

I left the infirmary pretty much in a complete daze. Diabetes? How could I have diabetes? I’m a 22 yr-old, healthy college kid. I walked back to my car and called my parents to get directions to Piedmont. I think they were just as shocked as I was. I tried to keep from crying, but I wasn’t able to. My dad helped calm me down & gave me the directions I needed & said they’d be on their way ASAP (from South Carolina, 4-1/2 hrs away). Then I called my girlfriend and told her I was going to the ER with the possibility that I had diabetes. She said she’d be on her way once she was done with classes for the day (she was in grad school at Auburn).

I got to the ER, barely. I should have gotten someone to drive me, but in my daze I couldn’t think of anyone to call to take me. I checked in and said the GT infirmary told me to come because they think I have diabetes. They took my info and a finger stick to test my blood sugar and told me to head to the waiting room.

A little while later, my uncle showed up. He worked very close to the hospital and, as I found out later, my dad had called him as soon as I got off the phone with him, and told my uncle to meet me at the ER. He waited with me for the night.

I hadn’t eaten much that day and was hungry so I borrowed some change from my uncle to get some crackers from a vending machine. My mouth was so dry that I could barely eat a single one. Eating one of them was like trying to do the saltine cracker challenge.

I was eventually taken to an ER bed where they hooked me up to an insulin IV for the night. I still wasn’t really sure what was going on or why this had happened. My parents & girlfriend showed up later that night & stayed with me as long as they were allowed. Nurses came in every half hour for the entire night to prick my finger to test my blood sugar.

The next morning, Feb 1, 2006, an endocrinologist met with me & my parents to tell us about my new condition and “officially” diagnose my as a Type-1 diabetic. He told me that when the ER tested my blood sugar from that first finger stick when I arrived, it was 840. A normal blood sugar is around 100. I was just a few minutes away from a diabetic coma. I don’t recall a lot about that meeting, but I do recall a question my dad asked the doctor. He said “Doc, why does this happen to a perfectly healthy, 22-year college kid?” The doctor said bluntly “If we knew that, we could prevent it.” Quite sobering.

My girlfriend, parents and I, also met with a diabetes educator to learn about the treatment of my new condition. I won’t go into details, but my life as I knew it was over. I could never eat anything again without thinking about how many carbohydrates were in the food or how much insulin I would have to take. My girlfriend took it all in and was my savior for the the whole thing. She would come to my place in Atlanta, and would prepare 2-3 weeks worth of meals that I could freeze. We worked together to count the carbs so I knew exactly how much insulin I would need for each meal.

I have now lived with this condition for 12 years. In that time, I graduated from Georgia Tech, moved to Richmond, VA, got a great job, married the love of my life (the aforementioned girlfriend), built a house, and had 2 amazing kids. I wear an insulin pump to treat my condition. It’s a pager-sized device that I clip to my belt that delivers insulin into my body 24/7/365. It’s basically my lifeline – without it, I would die.

I wouldn’t wish his disease on my worst enemy. I’m scared s***less that one day, one of my children will start to show some of the same symptoms that I experienced 12-1/2 years ago. There is no cure for Type-1 diabetes. There are only treatments. Advances in the treatment of T1D have come a long way in the last few years and it’s very possible an artificial pancreas will be available by the end of this decade. I’m waiting anxiously for that day.

Adam Duvall went through all this at age 23 as a High-A baseball player. He lost 20 pounds in 2 months, couldn’t lift weights without getting light-headed, couldn’t sleep because he was waking 5-6 times a night to pee. When he was finally diagnosed during Spring Training in 2012, he probably could have said “Man, there’s no way I can keep playing high-level baseball with a condition that screws with my body 24/7.” But he didn’t. He said “OK, where do we go, what do we do now, and just take care of it.”

Imagine having to think about the amount of carbohydrates you’re putting into your body every single time you eat anything at all. Now consider having to worry about the possibility of blacking out when you work out (something that did happen to me once) or when you train to stay in shape to play major league baseball, a grueling, 8-month grind through the heat of the summer that most fans can’t even contemplate fully. Imagine those things being in the back of your mind when you’re in the batter’s box facing 98 mph heat and knee-buckling breaking balls. That’s what Adam Duvall does every single day. He wears an insulin pump while he’s playing – it’s usually in his back pocket, protected by the same type of stuff bicycle helmets are made of. It delivers life-saving insulin 24/7, whether he’s bashing home runs or sliding in the outfield grass to make a run-saving catch.

There are many reasons why fans choose a favorite baseball player. Maybe they signed a baseball for them & were really nice to them on the occasion when they met. Maybe they’re an under-rated grinder, a quiet leader that hits nothing but singles (which are actually mostly doubles). Maybe they’re a cerebral pitcher who doesn’t dazzle with velocity but baffles with location, movement, & sequencing. Coming into this season, Adam Duvall was my favorite “non-Brave” baseball player because I relate to him for the struggles I went through when I was diagnosed with diabetes and the way the disease has radically changed my entire life and will forever. He went through the same experience and is now playing the game I love at the highest level for the team I’ve loved for my entire 35-year life. He could hit like Emilio Bonifacio and I wouldn’t care – he’s Adam Duvall and he’s what T1D looks like.

For more on Duvall’s story, read here. For more info on Type-1 diabetes and the on-going research in the treatment of the disease, please visit http://www.jdrf.org/.

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It’s all about the BENJAMIN$, baby


Saturday, December 16, 2017 will go down in the annals of Braves history as the day that Alex Anthopoulos pulled off the first major trade of his tenure as the new GM of the Atlanta Braves. You can safely say it is his best trade to date and hopefully an indication of the creativity he promised to bring to the Braves front office when he was hired a little over a month ago.

The basics: The Braves traded Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Charlie Culberson, and $4.5M cash. There’s a lot to digest here, so as I’m always bound to do, here’s a Boggy Breakdown:

***Note: the salary figures I use don’t match those that are widely reported elsewhere on Twitter and on the interwebs. Most of the figures you read will include the pro-rated amounts of players’ signing bonuses, which is what MLB does for the purpose of calculating luxury taxes on the highest-payroll teams in the league. I choose NOT to do this because I like to treat signing bonuses as real-time money paid up-front. After all, if a team promises a signing bonus of $5M to get a player to sign with them, he’s getting that money right away, not next year or the year after (unless you’re Dan Uggla but that’s a WHOLE ‘nother can of worms that I won’t open right now).

We’ll start with Matt Kemp. He’s probably the one player on the Braves roster that almost every single Braves fan with a pulse wanted to be traded this off-season – to clear his salary, to get his arthritic hips & bad hamstrings out of left field, and to make room for uber-prospect Ronald Acuña.

Kemp was owed $21.5M for the next 2 seasons (2018 & 2019) and the Dodgers took on all of that contract, every dime, $43M total. Here’s where someone might say “Wait a second Boggy, I thought the Padres & Dodgers were off-setting come of the cost of Matt Kemp’s contract from the first 2 times Kemp was traded?”

In my research, which is backed by Associated Press articles such as this one, the Padres are sending the Braves $2.5M annually from 2017-2019 as part of the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Braves. Let’s not concern ourselves with what the Dodgers are sending the Padres because that’s their problem. In this case, the Braves get to keep the $2.5M per year for 2018 & 2019 from the Padres, because nowhere in this latest Matt Kemp trade does anything indicate that the Braves are sending money to the Dodgers, quite the opposite actually.

Now for the players the Braves received from the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez is in the final year of a 7-year, $154M contract he signed in 2012 as a member of the Boston Red Sox. That contract is paying him $21.5M for the 2018 season, which makes his contract a total wash with Kemp’s for the 2018 season. He was DFA’d immediately after the trade and will be released today because the CBA stipulates that players cannot be released on the weekends during the off-season – how nice of MLB to make sure their players don’t lose their jobs over the weekend. He was DFA’d in order to get the 40-man roster down to 40 players, which is where it currently stands.

Scott Kazmir is in the final year of a 3-year, $48M contract he signed with the Dodgers in 2016. That contract paid him a $5M signing bonus (paid the day after the contract was signed), an $11M salary for 2016, and $16M salaries each year for 2017 & 2018. Some of you may have read that some of Kazmir’s contract was deferred, and you are correct (here’s the link). $8M of his salary from each season is deferred to be paid in December of 2019-2021. This effectively lowers the total value of the contract for luxury tax purposes at the time of the signing. You may be wondering why the Braves would have taken on Kazmir’s contract if it meant paying him thru 2021 and here’s my response: they didn’t.

I believe that the Dodgers set-up an annuity of some sort to account for these deferred payments. There’s no way the Braves would have agreed to this trade if it meant they actually owed Kazmir $32M until 2021 and not just $16M for 2018. So, for the purposes of the Braves and their payroll calculations for the 2018 season and beyond, that’s their total obligation to Kazmir – $16M in 2018. (h/t to @jervass of @OFRSports for going through this with me to clear it up, you should follow him and the rest of the guys at Outfield Fly Rule – they do great work)

UPDATE: After more research into Kazmir’s deferred payments (and more consultation with @jervass), I’ve confirmed that the Braves are only responsible for Kazmir’s $16M but that they will pay it out as noted in the deferral: $8M in 2018 and $8M in 2021. Here’s an AP source that states it clearly. This will inevitably vary by news source over the course of this season and future seasons, but for the sake of doing the most accurate bookkeeping, the $16M should be realized when it’s paid – half in 2018, the other half in 2021.

Brandon McCarthy is in the final year of a 4-year, $48M contract he signed with the Dodgers in 2015. He received a $6M signing bonus (paid in 2015) and a salary of $11M per year for 2015 & 2016, and $10M per year for 2017 & 2018. Here’s a little piece of info you might not know: the Dodgers bought themselves some injury insurance as part of this trade – the team holds a conditional team option for the 2019 season for $5M if McCarthy spends more than 180 days on the DL quote: “as a result of an injury to his pitching shoulder related to stress fracture or a reaction injury” (more on that here) from 2015-2018. The option is worth $8M if he spends between 120-179 days on the DL during that time period. Now, I can’t tell you if this injury qualifies him for this option, but I can tell you he spent the entirety of the 2015 season on the DL and half of 2016 on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery. All totaled, he’s spent 379 days on the disabled list since he signed that contract. I’m no expert or doctor, but my guess is that the Braves now hold a team option for $5M for the 2019 season on Brandon McCarthy.

UPDATE: After consulting with @TrueBlueLA and doing a little more digging into McCarthy’s original contract and injury history, I no longer believe the Braves hold a $5M team option for the 2019 season for McCarthy.

The conditional option was included in his contract because of previous shoulder problems he’d had, not elbow problems. The conditional option only applies for an injury to his pitching shoulder and none of his DL time since he signed his contract can be attributed to his pitching shoulder – it’s all for his pitching elbow (Tommy John surgery ’15-’16), “the yips” when he returned from his surgery and all of a sudden couldn’t find the strike zone again, and blisters on his pitching hand in 2017. Unless he spends most of the 2018 season on the DL with right shoulder problems, McCarthy will be a free agent after 2018 with no cheap team option.

The Braves also get utility infielder and Rome, GA native Charlie Culberson in this deal. Culberson is pre-arbitration eligible for the 2018 season so the Braves have 4 more years of control over an excellent defender at multiple positions including 2B, SS, 3B, & the outfield. He essentially replaces Jace Peterson. I’m obligated by my name alone to tell you the he is out of options. Since he’s pre-arbitration eligible, the amount he’ll make in 2018 is a non-factor in the evaluation of the finances of this trade, since leftover roster spots are filled with pre-arbitration players making league minimum (more on this later).

Lastly, the Dodgers are sending the Braves $4.5M as part of this trade, an amount that will apply to the 2018 season. This amount is simply to make the entirety of the trade a financial wash for both teams. Summary: Braves add Gonzalez $21.5M + Kazmir $16M + McCarthy $10M ($47.5M total) and subtract Kemp $43M and $4.5M ($47.5M total) for a net of $0 added for each team. You may be wondering why 2 teams would make a trade that nets neither team any financial obligation, and one team is taking on $21.5M extra for the 2018 season. This trade works great for both teams because it allows the Braves to clear future payroll in 2019 to spend on the great upcoming free agent class and it allows the Dodgers to get under the luxury tax threshold for 2018, which also allows them to potentially be able to spend on the 2019 free agent class.

Here’s the breakdown of how the Braves 2018 Opening Day payroll looks as of today:

Under contract: $69.8M (10 players, includes Brothers & Whitley’s minor-league guarantee)

Arbitration estimates: $8.4M (4 players, figures from MLB Trade Rumors)

Pre-arb players: $6M (11 players at $545k, league min)

Dead money: $22.3M (Gonzalez, Dickey buyout, Uggla deferred singing bonus, Rule 5 selection fee for Anyelo Gomez)

From others teams: $7M

GRAND TOTAL: $99.5M

Assuming a rough budget of $130M for the 2018 season, the Braves still have around $30.5M they can spend to shore up the bullpen, and/or improve at third base, the 2 places it is believed the Braves are still looking to improve this off-season.

Here’s where the Braves really came out looking like ballers & shot-callers in this trade: their financial obligation for the 2019 season is now a mere $37M. That’s it. All of it. Three guaranteed contracts (Freeman, Inciarte, & Teheran). That’s before arbitration raises but I won’t even begin to estimate those right now because so much can happen between now and next winter before determining who on the roster is or will be arbitration eligible. But if someone says to you “The Braves will have $100M to spend on the free agent class of 2019”, don’t correct them – they’re pretty close to right.

To finish this off, I say we raise our glasses to Alex Anthopoulos, who managed to pull off a trade that we all wanted but were afraid was impossible to accomplish, and he managed to add a veteran starting pitcher, and reliable bench bat and utility fielder with a great glove, and a wild card lefty who could be something, or could be nothing at all, depending on his return from injury. I imagine AA is dippin’ in the Benz with the spoilers right now.

– Boggy

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