The Braves signed outfielder Ender Inciarte to a five-year extension worth $30.525 million, the club announced Friday morning. The deal also includes a $9 million club option for a sixth season.
Inciarte was slated to become a free agent after the 2020 season, so the deal extends Atlanta’s control over him by two seasons. The contract covers all four arbitration seasons for Inciarte, plus two free-agent seasons, if the option is exercised in 2022.
Atlanta has had a busy offseason and now has seemingly started the process of extending members of its core. The Braves acquired Inciarte in last offseason’s Shelby Miller trade, and have now locked him up alongside veterans Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran for the long haul.
“We feel that he’s the best defensive center fielder in baseball and one of the best leadoff hitters in the game,” Braves General Manager John Coppolella said in a statement. “Ender brings so much to our club, on and off the field, and we are happy to have him under club control for at least the next six years.”
Inciarte, 26, had a dominant 2016 season, batting .291/.351/.381 with three home runs and 29 RBIs over 131 games. He also stole 16 bases and was caught just seven times.
Inciarte was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason but avoids arbitration after signing the new contract. He will likely join Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis in Atlanta’s outfield next season, with Mallex Smith serving as a depth option.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was the first to report the two sides had a agreed on an extension.