The year 2019 will be known as the year that saw then number of extensions given to young players loaded with potential but with little to no track record contract extensions. We have seen it from Aaron Nola to Eloy Jimenez to Ronald Acuna and others in the last month or two. Rather than wait to try and get paid in free agency down the road while dealing with the arbitration Wheel of Destiny and where it might land.
Well, today we have another extension in place that is raising even more eyebrows given the player and the value of the contract.
Second baseman Ozzie Albies and the Atlanta Braves are in agreement on a seven-year, $35M contract extension that includes a pair of club option, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN. It will keep Albies under club control past his age-30 season, a key for teams these days.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 11, 2019
Told two option years for Albies are $7M each with $4M buyouts. So if both picked up, #Braves get Albies for 9 years, $45M.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) April 11, 2019
Lets get this out of the way: this deal is an even better deal for the Atlanta Braves than they widely praised extension handed out to Ronald Acuna Jr. that was for significantly more money and years. Albies was nearly a 4 fWAR players last year for the Braves despite a second half swoon and is off to a scorching start this year for the team Even when you factor in some risk with Ozzie being a young player, for such a low AAV and the flexibility of two very friendly options tacked on the end, this deal is a no brainer on the Braves side.
As for Albies, his acceptance of this deal speaks not only to how much he wants to stay with the Braves and its current young core, but also to the state of the baseball labor market. Players seem to want to get some amount of financial security in the near term and avoid the free agent market that has not been particularly kind to those that are not among the absolute cream of the crop (and even some of those players are still looking for contracts that they feel match their value). Some have speculated that these are the sorts of deals that seem to point to a work stoppage coming and others are openly denouncing the deal as terrible for Albies as it seems as though he will make significantly less than he would if just went through the normal arbitration timeline and process. It was absolutely his decision to make, but to say that the decision was eye-opening is a bit of an understatement.