The Braves did it again. The club with two of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, inked the recently acquired Sean Murphy to another potentially team-friendly extension, which will pay the Gold Glove catcher just north of $12 million per season for next six years.
It’s a testament to Alex Anthopoulos and his staff’s desire to sign guys a bit too early to ensure they get the best rates. It’s certainly risky. Just look at Ronald Acuna Jr.’s ACL injury or Ozzie Albies missing much of the 2022 campaign with injuries.
The club prefers to be a little early to the party rather than fashionably late like Steve Cohen and the Mets, who can and will pay top-of-the-market prices. It’s afforded the Braves a championship window that stretches over the better part of the next decade.
The Braves’ club control after today’s six-year Sean Murphy extension:
Austin Riley, through 2033
Michael Harris II, 2032
Matt Olson, 2030
Sean Murphy, 2029
Spencer Strider, 2029
Ronald Acuña Jr., 2028
Vaughn Grissom, 2028
Ozzie Albies, 2027
Kyle Wright, 2026
Max Fried, 2024
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2022
If Vaughn Grissom pans out at shortstop, the Braves will have seven positions in the field filled through most of the 2020s. That’s the kind of stability and continuity that sports organizations dream about.
This entire approach began with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies. The former signed an eight-year, $100 million deal, while the latter signed a seven-year, $35 million deal shortly after each made their debuts. But the strategy has been implemented several more times in different forms.
Austin Riley was handed the most lucrative contract extension in franchise history in the most recent wave of extensions — $212 million over ten years that will keep him in Atlanta until 2033. In about a year’s time, Anthopoulos would hammer out five extensions, including the most recent in Sean Murphy and his former teammate Matt Olson last offseason.
Olson and Murphy were both acquired from the A’s and then extended by the Braves. Olson quickly signed an eight-year, $168 million extension that will keep him in Atlanta for the rest of his prime years. And this offseason, AA followed a similar path with Murphy, inking him to a six-year, $73 million deal.
Anthopoulos would resort back to the strategy of buying out arbitration years with Michael Harris and Spencer Strider during the 2022 season, giving the former an eight-year, $72 million deal that could end up being ten years, then agreeing to a six-year, $75 million extension with Strider.
There’s risk associated with all of these deals, and if you’re keeping track at home, that is around $735 million in contract extensions the Braves are committed to, from Acuna’s to Murphy’s. And that doesn’t even account for Marcell Ozuna‘s four-year, $65 million deal the Braves handed him or Raisel Iglesias‘s four-year, $58 million contract the team inherited following their trade with the Angels.
There have been many complaints regarding the Braves spending habits, and rightfully so. Watching Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson walk in back-to-back offseason stings, but these kinds of extensions undoubtedly help heal those wounds.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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