Back in September, MLBTR's Jeff Todd wondered whether or not the Braves would look to extend their young core, and the last three weeks have revealed the answer: a resounding yes. Earlier today, the Braves announced that they had agreed to a seven-year, $58MM contract extension with defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons. The extension marks the fourth extension of at least four years for the Braves in the past three weeks and the sixth multi-year deal they've signed. Counting the new contracts for Simmons, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran and Jason Heyward (two-year deal), the Braves have committed just over $280MM in salary to their young core. Here are some reactions to their latest long-term pact…
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs compares Simmons' extension in comparison to the arbitration paydays of several defensive-oriented players such as Elvis Andrus, Brett Gardner and Michael Bourn. Cameron notes that Simmons received roughly double what can be expected for a glove-first player based on their salaries. However, he also looks at Simmons' chances of becoming a Super Two player and the potential for offensive growth, noting that he's one season of strong numbers at the dish away from rocketing himself into another stratosphere alongside the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Buster Posey.
- In a highly recommended subscription-only piece, Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus looks at the floor for Simmons over the life of his extension, noting that it's probably similar Adam Everett's late 20s, when he averaged better than two WAR per season. He also looks at Simmons' ceiling, noting that his BABIP indicates he was robbed of 19 hits last season. Simmons' walk rate and ISO compare favorably to a strong group of hitters, leading Miller to conclude that if Simmons hits, the extension is beyond a bargain for Atlanta.
- General manager Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the extensions haven't altered 2014 payroll much, and the team still has flexibility to make in-season additions. He also notes that more young players will be extended, though not necessarily this year (Twitter links).
- It's time to reassess the Braves' ownership, writes Dayn Perry of CBS Sports. Perry looks at the downward trend in payroll that took place after Liberty Media took control of the team in 2007, noting that since that time the team has had a below-average payroll. Perry points out the enormous benefit provided by the team's upcoming Cobb County stadium and adds: "The prevailing reality is that the Braves, coming off 96 wins and a division title, are well-poised for the future, and that's in part because the maligned Liberty Media is willing to underwrite all these high-ceiling young players and keep them in Atlanta."
- ESPN's Jim Bowden calls the contract a "steal" for the Braves (ESPN Insider required), noting that they're paying Simmons for his excellent glovework before his bat has fully developed. Bowden feels that Simmons will blossom into a plus hitter as well, and that the offense will be pure surplus value, as his glove alone is worth the money.
- Bowden's colleague Keith Law kicked off his weekly chat by praising the Simmons deal, noting that the price is justified even if Simmons never hits much. Law agrees that Simmons' low BABIP leaves room for some offensive improvement, though he's surprised that the Braves simply guaranteed Simmons' salary for his third pre-arb year as if he were a surefire Super Two player. (Other deals, such as Ryan Braun's, for example, have included escalator clauses that provide a larger salary if the player reaches Super Two status.)