Bob Wickman signed a one-year extension with the Braves yesterday, meaning that there is almost zero chance that Atlanta fans will face the prospect of entering another season hoping that Chris Reitsma will somehow, some way turn things around.
From the AJC:
The Braves reached agreement on a $6.5 million, one-year contract extension with the burly right-hander Wednesday. Wickman made $5.4 million, counting incentives, this season.
The 37-year-old converted 15 of his first 16 save opportunities with the Braves and had a 1.19 ERA in 24 appearances. He struck out 22 and walked one in 22 2/3 innings.
Asked where the Braves would be if Wickman had been with the team all season, general manager John Schuerholz said emphatically, “We’d be in the playoffs.”
It’s hard to say if the Braves really would be in the playoffs if they had had Wickman all this season. But consider this: other than Wickman, Braves relievers this season blew 27 of 47 saves. That’s just ugly.
Getting Wickman is big for the Braves, but there is still more work to be done. The team’s rotation has an aging Smoltz, a recuperating Mike Hampton and, well, after that it’s anybody’s guess. Chipper Jones continues to be good when healthy, but he’s not often healthy. Marcus Giles is coming off a subpar year. The Braves never found a leadoff hitter and Edgar Renteria, who has cooled dramatically lately, is about to turn 75.
Will the Braves rebound and retake the East next season? Will Wickman be the missing piece?