SBD/February 21, 2014/Franchises

Welcome To The Future: Braves Ink Yet Another Long-Term Deal With Young Star

Wren says the Braves still have flexibility to make moves through the season
Braves GM Frank Wren said that Chair & CEO Terry McGuirk and President John Schuerholz were both "involved in planning and approval" of the team's five contract extensions over the past 17 days totaling a guaranteed $280.7M, according to David O'Brien of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The Braves in recent weeks have inked extensions with 1B Freddie Freeman, RF Jason Heyward, SS Andrelton Simmons, and Ps Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran. Wren said, "These were big, big financial commitments by an organization, and all those folks had to be involved." O'Brien notes if option years "are exercised, as expected, on the contracts" of Kimbrel and Teheran, the "total value of the five deals" will be at least $303.7M (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/21). O'Brien notes Simmons on Thursday became the Braves' "latest young standout locked into a lucrative contract extension," with a seven-year, $58M deal. The Braves' run of big contracts "might be over for now," but Wren said that there are "plans to try to sign more of the team’s 'core' players to extensions in the next year or two." O'Brien notes most "big spending" in the five recent extensions will come after the Braves move to their new ballpark in Cobb County in '17, "where they project increased revenues." Wren said of the extensions, "For the most part, it hasn't really impacted our 2014 payroll, and we still have flexibility to make moves as we go through the season. And I think as you look at our long-term payroll, it also fits for us" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/21). MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote the Braves have "clearly indicated that they plan to increase their payroll within the next few years," and Wren has indicated he will "have payroll flexibility to make in-season acquisitions" (MLB.com, 2/20).

BRING 'EM YOUNG: Baseball writer Peter Gammons noted of Freeman, Simmons, Kimbrel and Teheran, "None of these four players are over 30 at the end of their deals." An MLB GM said, "What the Braves have wisely done is pay for the players’ prime seasons. There are no high 30’s end-of-career debts, like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton or Robinson Cano. Atlanta bought prime years. It’s brilliant." An MLB player agent added, "This is the future. I think you’re going to see teams designate their best players and pay top dollar up through the age of 30." Gammons writes MLB agent Scott Boras "may not like it, but offer a 21-year old kid a ten year deal and he may have a tough time turning it down rather than being Scott's pawn" (GAMMONSDAILY.com, 2/20).

GIVE ME LIBERTY: CBSSPORTS.com's Dayn Perry noted the Braves now have more than $38.5M "in payroll obligations" for the '20 season. Just 16 teams have "any money at all committed" for '20, and only the Yankees and Rangers "have more set aside than the Braves." Team Owner Liberty Media has "invested in its product to an extent not seen in many other MLB markets." It is "probably no coincidence that this outlay comes in the afterglow of getting their new suburban ballpark approved." The Braves "don't think much of their current local-television contract, which is the cash cow for most high-payroll teams these days, but they do think much of building a new stadium within their ticket-sales nexus of Cobb County and with the help of hundreds of millions of tax dollars" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/20).
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