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Braves must go low with Kimbrel

1/30/2014
If the Braves want to keep Kimbrel for all of 2014, where they meet in arbitration will be crucial. Pouya Dianat/Getty Images

The arbitration case that will be made for Craig Kimbrel next month will be unique, because no reliever has started a career with three-plus seasons like Kimbrel -- 381 strikeouts among the first 883 hitters he's faced, with a 1.39 ERA and 139 saves. The Braves love Kimbrel, having drafted and developed him and promoted him into the closer's role just a couple of months into his career.

But the gap between what the Braves have offered Kimbrel -- $6.55 million -- and what Kimbrel wants in arbitration -- $9 million -- is enormous, and there’s more at stake for Atlanta in this hearing than the $2.45 million that separates the sides.

If the Braves win the case, they will give themselves a legitimate chance to keep Kimbrel for 2015. If they lose