The Atlanta Braves are going to be good for a very long time.
Merely one week following the landmark eight-year, $100 million extension of 2018 National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves announced Thursday afternoon that they have now come to terms on a long-term extension with their other young All-Star, 2B Ozzie Albies.
As first reported by MLB Network’s Joel Sherman, the Braves and Albies have agreed to a seven-year, $35 million contract extension, with club options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons. Each of the two club vesting options are worth a reported $7 million, with a $4 million buyout in 2026 and no buyout in 2027. Taking into account both team options, the deal maxes out at a value of nine-years, $45 million (average annual value of $5 million).
Albies’ extension will take immediate effect this season, replacing his one-year, $575,000 ($20,000 above league minimum) contract signed earlier this month. Albies, 22, will be paid $1 million in 2019 and 2020, $3 million in 2021, $5 million in 2022 and $7 million in 2023, 2024, and 2025. Should the team exercise their options in 2026 and 2027, Albies will earn an additional $7 million for each season.
Following a truncated 2017 rookie season in which he slashed .286/.354/.456 with 6 HRs and 28 RBIs in 57 games, Albies had a breakout sophomore season where he raked .261/.305/.452 with 24 HRs, 36 BBs and 72 RBIs. As a result of his impressive season, Albies was selected to the NL All-Star team roster in 2018. So far in 2019, Albies is off to an incredibly hot start. In 11 games, Albies has slashed .364/.429/.500 with 1 HR, 5 BBs and 2 RBIs.
As a result of the new deal, Ozzie Albies has the potential to remain under Atlanta Braves control through at least his year-31 season (2027). Similarly, Acuña Jr.’s deal would allow him to remain under Braves control through 2028 (his year-30 season). In these two extensions, the Braves have now secured the future of their franchise and have done so at well below market value.
As noted by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, when taking into account both Albies and Acuña Jr.’s potential, “Atlanta bought itself hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus value” with both deals.
Notably perturbed by the lack of value in both deals, Passan added, “Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies are richer than you, me and 99.999% of people ever will be, and they can take solace in that. But it doesn’t lessen the fact that baseball teams are using the inherent advantages they have as cudgels and getting extreme value from them”, before concluding, “This is great business for the Atlanta Braves. This is bad business for baseball’.”
The deal, by all accounts, is a massive win for the Atlanta Braves franchise, who will now maintain control over their young marquee stars for a combined minimum of 15 seasons (not including club options).
In an offseason and early spring dominated by high-dollar contract extensions, these two below market deals stand out starkly amongst the pack. Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos will likely be commended for landing such franchise friendly agreements, while analysts and players will likely continue to groan about player manipulation and the financial pressure of rookie contracts. Yet, at the end of the day, these players agreed to their contracts and could have tested the free agent market if they so pleased.
Despite the glaring lack of value in the deal, Ozzie Albies is very outwardly excited about his extension. In comments given following the Braves’ contract extension press conference, Albies stated, “I’m excited to be here for another seven years. Atlanta feels like home.”
The Braves will face off against their NL East Division rival New York Mets at home in SunTrust Park Thursday night.