The Braves have a very young team this upcoming season, particularly with the loss of Tim Hudson and Brian McCann. Though the clubhouse is young, no one can argue that the talent is there.
The young talent surrounded three main players. Freddie Freeman, Jason Heywrad, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran, and Andrelton Simmons. Most Braves fans and baseball enthusiasts expected to sign just a couple of these players, since the Braves’ payroll isn’t the highest out there. But boy did they surprise us.
It started with a two year, $13.5m deal to Jason Heyward. Though the contract is short, Heyward has been quite streaky throughout his career. Part of that is due to injury, but going from batting under .100 at the start of the season to becoming one of the better lead off hitters, Heyward is worth the risk. No one can argue that he has potential to be one of the better corner outfielders in the league, it’s just a matter if he can reach his full potential.
The next extension came in the form of Freddie Freeman, who by far reached the largest deal of the off season, and even the highest in Braves’ history. Freeman inked an eight year, $135m contract to avoid arbitration and make him a long term Brave. Freeman proved himself to be one of the best first basemen in the league, and has potential to be an MVP candidate in the future.
Then all eyes were on Craig Kimbrel, who is widely believed to be the best closer in the game. Most expected Kimbrel to say goodbye to the Braves soon and take what easily could be a blockbuster contract. But with the agreement of a four year, $42m deal, Kimbrel is guaranteed to continue his pitching dominance in Atlanta.
Julio Teheran was the Braves’ top prospect, and the top right handed pitching prospect in baseball. After a slightly shaky start, Teheran managed to pull it together and show his potential to be a future ace on the staff, though that job will be in competition with left handed star Mike Minor.
Then it came down to Andrelton Simmons. Simmons is widely considered to be the best defensive short stop in the game. The reigning Gold Glove and Platinum Glove winner has been watched by baseball enthusiasts across the world. If you don’t believe he’s the best, this 25 minute highlight reel can change your mind. Yes, you heard right. 25 minutes of highlights… from one season. Simmons agreed today to a seven year, $52m deal.
These five contracts ensure that some of the team’s top talent will stick around for years to come. The Braves, who won the National League East in 2013 have another in their sights. Should these players continue to play how they did last season, and if Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen come back to true form, it is very likely that they can win their second consecutive title.
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