KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Craig Kimbrel saw the growing list of young Atlanta Braves players committing to long-term deals and decided he wanted to jump on board.

Atlanta locked up another important piece of its foundation Sunday by agreeing to a $42 million, four-year contract with Kimbrel, an All-Star closer who led the National League with 50 saves last year.

“I want to stay here with a group of guys that I came up with and I’m comfortable with,” said Kimbrel, 25, who had a 1.21 earned-run average and 98 strikeouts in 67 innings last season.

Dempster to take the season off

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Boston right-hander Ryan Dempster plans to take this season off, a decision that surprised teammates and will cost him $13.25 million in salary.

Dempster, 36, said he is stepping away for physical reasons and to spend more time with his family. He left a slight opening to play in 2015.

Dempster mentioned “some issues I have with my neck that have made it harder and harder to throw a baseball and throw it like I’m accustomed to throw it.”


A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies have completed a contract that guarantees the 37-year-old pitcher $15 million for 2014 and $22.5 million over two seasons.

Burnett would get $33.5 million over two seasons if he makes 30 starts or more in both years.

• Oakland Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick, 26, avoided a salary-arbitration hearing by agreeing to a $2.7 million, one-year contract.

“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Reddick, who had wrist surgery in the offseason.