The Atlanta Braves have signed closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year contract extension that includes a club option for 2018, according to a team announcement. According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the deal guarantees $42MM over the first four seasons, with a $13MM option for 2018. It also includes $3.5MM in performance bonuses that can push its total value to $58.5MM over five seasons, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. The deal is the largest ever for a closer pre-free agency, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the salary breakdown:
Kimbrel breakdown: $1M sign bonus, $7M salary in '14, $9M in '15, $11M in '16, $13M in '17. $13M option in '18/$1M buyout— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 16, 2014
Kimbrel's deal is the third longterm extension that the Braves have handed out to a young player in the last few weeks, joining deals signed by Freddie Freeman (8 years, $135MM), Jason Heyward (2 years, $13.3MM) and Julio Teheran (6 years, $32.4MM with a team option for 2020). In locking up four of their young players, the team has spent $222.7MM in guaranteed money on contract extensions this winter.
Kimbrel's four-year deal buys out his three years of arbitration eligibility and one year of free agency, with the potential of covering a second free agent year if the team exercises his option for 2018. Kimbrel, who turns 26 in May, is under Braves' control through his age-30 season.
In 231 appearances over his first four seasons in the Majors, Kimbrel has posted a 1.39 ERA and 139 saves in 231 appearances. He has struck out 381 batters while walking only 82, leading to a 15.1 K/9 ratio and 4.65 K/BB ratio. Kimbrel was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2011, and has been named to the NL All-Star team in each of the last three seasons while landing within the top 5 in Cy Young award voting in the past two.