The Atlanta Braves and third baseman Chris Johnson have agreed on a three-year contract extension, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. The deal also includes a team option for 2018. The deal is reportedly worth $23.5 million with a $10 million club option, pushing to the potential total amount to $33.5 million, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
Source: #Braves agree with Chris Johnson to 3-yr extension plus club option. Buys out final 2 yrs of arb, plus 1 and possibly 2 yrs of FA.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 1, 2014
As Rosenthal notes, the extension will buyout two arbitration years and at least one of Johnson's free agent seasons. He is earning $4.75 million this year, so he will receive a significant raise over the next three seasons.
Johnson, acquired by the Braves in last winter's Justin Upton mega-trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, is 29-years-old, and emerged last season as the Braves' everyday third baseman. In his breakout campaign last year, Johnson hit .321/.358/.457 with a 127 wRC+ and 2.8 WAR. He led the NL batting race for much of the season, but ultimately lost out to Rockies' outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
Johnson's performance last year was largely fueled by an otherworldly .394 BABIP. He has done a good job of proving the unsustainable nature of his 2013 performance so far this season, as he is currently hitting just .231/.260/.330 with a 64 wRC+ and 0.1 WAR. His BABIP is at a much more reasonable .303 mark. We probably shouldn't expect Johnson to be this poor for the rest of the season, but a return to last year is a bit too far-fetched. It's more likely that he settles into his 2012 level of play, when he hit .281/.326/.451 with a 108 wRC+ and 1.3 WAR.
Johnson is the latest in what has been a flurry of extensions for the Braves this year. Since February, Atlanta has locked up Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran, and Andrelton Simmons for a combined $280.7 million. Their tactic looks quite sound considering the weak free agent classes that baseball will be experiencing in the coming years.
Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com was first to report that the sides were nearing a deal.