The Braves are handing out extensions like pregame programs, locking up future superstars Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies for at least the next seven years in the last ten days. Ronald inked a new deal at eight years and 100 million dollars – a HUGE steal for the Braves. Acuña would unequivocally get over 300 million as a free agent but would not have hit the open market for another five years. Ronald chose instant security, and will still hit free agency near the end of his prime. While that is an A+ move by the Braves’ brass, Ozzie might be an even bigger bargain at seven years and 35 million dollars. Both players would secure more money as free agents but chose to stay with the Braves and serve as cornerstones. With two young superstars inked for the foreseeable future, there is only one question left. *Finds inner Goldberg voice* Who’s next?
Dansby might be the most logical candidate for an extension. This, for some of Braves country, sounds crazy since they were willing to ship him off last year and move Ozzie back to shortstop. The former #1 overall pick is entering his third full season and is hotter than a dancing bobcat right now. Swanson is an Atlanta native and loves playing for the hometown team. If he continues to produce the way he is currently, expect Lieutenant Dans to sign a contract that will keep him at home for quite a while.
Foltynewicz is coming off a breakout 2018 season in which he made the All-Star team, finished with a sub-three ERA, and was top-ten in Cy Young voting. It’s only one season, but most of Braves Country agrees he is far and away the best pitcher on the current staff. Folty has two more arbitration years left on his contract, so it might be wise for the Braves to sign him now before he has another stellar 2019. Although, Folty’s injury problems that have caused him to start the season on the Injured-List may prevent the front office from meeting his demands.
Ender is an intriguing option for an extension. He will be 29 in October and is a perennial Gold Glove candidate in centerfield. Braves Country is split on Ender. Some say, “Offense is not important. Ender is an elite defender.” Others say, “Unless he is hitting .300, trade him because of his elite defense.” If Brian Snitker would end the leadoff experiment with Ender and accept him for what he is, Inciarte could be locked in as a Brave for a few more years.
Fried has an outside shot for an extension, but only because he is unproven. There is no disputing his top of the rotation potential, but minor injuries have caused question marks. Fried has not given up an earned run in his first two starts, which isn’t sustainable but shows the kind of ceiling he possesses. A full season of healthy Max Fried could net him an extension.
Pache is THE longshot for an extension. He has yet to play an inning in a big league game, but is among the Braves’ top prospects and might have the most potential. Pache has been called the best defender in the ENTIRE Braves organization. That includes the pro club and back-to-back-to-back Gold Glove winner, Ender Inciarte. He’s even being compared to the best center fielder of all-time, Andruw Jones. Praise like that is not handed out to anyone. The 20-year old will likely be the right fielder in 2020, or centerfielder if Ender is traded and Ronald wishes to remain at a corner spot. Expect Pache to be locked in quickly if he continues to look like the player that showed up at spring training.