11:35am: Heyman tweets the financial breakdown of the contract: Heyward receives a $1MM signing bonus, a $4.5MM salary in 2014 and a $7.8MM salary in 2015.
10:34am: David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (via Twitter) that Heyward's deal also contains performance escalators that could boost the value of his contract's second year.
Meanwhile, Wren tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman that the club still has a strict "file and trial" policy, but it doesn't apply to multi-year deals (Twitter link). In other words, they won't continue to negotiate one-year deals with Freeman or Kimbrel from this point forward, but extensions could still be reached. That approach is typical of many file and trial clubs.
10:08am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Heyward's deal will pay him $13.3MM over the next two seasons.
10:00am: The Braves have issued a press release to announce the signing of right fielder Jason Heyward to a two-year contract. The contract, which covers the 2014-15 seasons, prevents Heyward and the Braves from going to an arbitration hearing. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the Braves.
Heyward, a client of Excel Sports Management, exchanged arbitration figures with the Braves last month. The 24-year-old former All-Star filed for a $5.5MM salary, while the Braves countered at $5.2MM. The gap between the two sides may seem small, but this is extension serves as a reminder that "file and trial" teams such as the Braves may still be open to negotiating multi-year deals after exchanging figures. This gives the Braves and their fans hope that the potential hearings for closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman can be similarly avoided.
"Jason is an important part of our organization and we’re glad that we were able to agree on a multi-year contract," said general manager Frank Wren within the release.
Though Heyward has never matched the on-base skills he displayed in his outstanding rookie season (.277/.393/.456), and his power dipped from 2012 to 2013 (27 homers/.210 ISO vs. 14 homers/.173 ISO), Heyward consistently turns in solid offensive contributions and elite defense in the outfield.
This new contract buys out his final two years of arbitration eligibility, meaning he's on track to become a free agent heading into his age-26 season. Cases such as that are so rare in today's world of extensions, that Heyward is poised to be one of the most coveted free agents in recent history should he stay healthy and not sign a further extension.