The Atlanta Braves have agreed to terms on a six-year, $32.4 million contract extension with right-hander Julio Teheran, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal includes a $12 million team option for a seventh season, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, that would keep Teheran in Atlanta through the 2020 season. If not exercised, Teheran will receive a $1 million buyout.
Per Joel Sherman of the NY Post, the year-to-year contract breakdown is as follows: $800,000 in 2014, $1 million in 2015, $3.3 million in 2016, $6.3 million in 2017, $8 million in 2018, and $9 million in 2019. The deal also includes a $1 million signing bonus.
Teheran, 23, is the third homegrown Braves player to get a multi-year extension from the club this month, joining right fielder Jason Heyward (2/$13.3M) and first baseman Freddie Freeman (8/$135M). Unlike his extension companions, Teheran is still a couple years away from arbitration -- he has just over a year of service time -- so while his deal is a long one, the guaranteed portion buys out just one year of free agency.
The year-to-year breakdown of the contract is unknown at the moment, but the average annual value is just $5.4 million, which will be a huge steal for the Braves if Teheran can duplicate last season's success. The young Colombian had his doubters after unsuccessful cups of coffee with the club in 2011 and 2012, but lived up to his top-prospect pedigree in 2013. After a rough April, Teheran settled down and proceeded to post a 3.20 ERA and 8.2 K/9 in 185⅔ innings over 30 starts on the year, good for 3.2 bWAR.
It was Teheran's fastball/change-up combination that helped him fly through the Braves farm system and made him a top-ten prospect (No. 5) two years running, but, surprisingly, that was not the key to his breakout in 2013. Instead, the right-hander found success by essentially abandoning the cambio and embracing a new out pitch, the slider. A fifth of all Teheran's pitches in 2013 were sliders, and he got whiffs on it a solid 18 percent of the time. If Teheran can continue to find success with the slider and bring his killer change-up back into the arsenal, the sky's the limit. (Mark Smith has a wonderful breakdown of Teheran's evolution as a pitcher over at Talking Chop.)
With Teheran locked down for the foreseeable future at a very team-friendly rate, one has to wonder if the Braves are champing at the bit to do the same with the rest of the rotation. Mike Minor (25), Kris Medlen (27), and Brandon Beachy (26) aren't as young as their rotation mate, but all are still at least a couple seasons away from free agency and are relatively cheap -- Medlen is the highest paid of the group at $5.8 million. Whether they extend anyone else or not, Atlanta has one of the most enviable rotations in the league, and it could get even younger if Alex Wood (23) and his wonky mechanics can stick in the back of the rotation.