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MLB Salaries: The Atlanta Braves Have the Magic Juju

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The Atlanta Braves are again in contention to make a deep playoff run, and if they get hot at the right time could be a world series contender. Alex Anthopoulos has created a team with depth and stars scattered throughout the lineup. It is impressive how he has been able to keep so many of their young stars and add meaningful pieces throughout the free agent and trading periods. With their young stars, they have been able to lock them up with long-term contracts through their prime rather than having wasted years towards the end of their careers.

Alex Anthopoulos’s Contract Moves

Over the past three years, Anthopoulos has made it a mission to lock up his star players to have them under control during their best years. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies signed extensions in 2019. Acuna Jr. signed an eight-year 100-million-dollar contract extension, while Albies signed a seven-year 35-million-dollar extension. Austin Riley signed his contract extension last week for ten years 212 million dollars.

What makes these deals great is how much the club will pay each player per year. Each one of these players’ average salary is so low compared to others at their talent level. This allows Anthopoulos to make moves like signing Kenley Jansen in the offseason and trading for Raisel Iglesias at the trade deadline to sure up the Atlanta Braves bullpen.

What Would Other Contracts Look Like for these Players?

These three players are the greatest example of giving great deals for their teams while getting paid. Ronald Acuna Jr. has similar stats to a young Bryce Harper when he was with the Nationals.

In Harper’s first four years he had 97 home runs, 248 runs batted in, and a batting average of .286. Compared to Acuna’s first four years with 105 home runs, 246 runs batted in, and a .276 batting average. With Acuna’s stats, he played 115 fewer games due to the COVID season and tearing his ACL. Harper received a 13 years 330-million-dollar contract after the 2019 season averaging 25 million dollars a year.  Acuna’s contract has an average salary of 12.5 million dollars a year. This is a huge difference between the two-star players that have very similar stats. Him taking less money has helped Anthopoulos make moves on players that the Phillies might avoid due to money concerns

With Austin Riley’s contract, it was the perfect signing for both sides because he has shown that all the potential, he had in the minors is coming to fruition. This year he is one of the best third basemen in the league, with 30 home runs and 74 runs batted in. This rivals third baseman Nolan Arenado that has been known as one of the best. The difference is that Arenado is making 32.5 million dollars a year compared to Riley’s 21.2 million dollars.

The flexibility Anthopoulos has with his roster gives him the ability to make moves throughout the year. Even if one of these players falls off the deep end and is not as productive with their contract being so team-friendly it opens trade opportunities. This can be seen with the Angels Anthony Rendon not performing at the all-star level he used and no one willing to take on the 35 million dollars a year for the next five years. While being team-friendly it also benefits the players as well.

What Makes These Atlanta Braves Deals so Player Friendly

These three team-friendly deals also benefit the players in the long run as well. All three players are extremely young with Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies being 25 and Ronald Acuna 24. By the end of their contracts, Riley will be 35, and Acuna and Albies will be 32. This allows these three players to sign another extension towards the tail end of their prime to make more money.

Overall, general manager Alex Anthopoulos has done an excellent job extending these three-star players to long extensions while in their prime. It is one of the best moves that he could have done to be able to keep the Atlanta Braves a championship contender every year. And it allows him to be able to sign or trade for more talent in years to come.

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