A slow free agent market each of the last two offseasons is bringing a bunch of contract extensions, and now the Braves have locked up Ronald Acuna.
The slow MLB free agent market in back-to-back offseasons has created uncertainty for players, and there have been a bunch of contract extensions this spring. Now, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Atlanta Braves are nearing a deal with outfielder Ronald Acuna.
Passan reported it’ll be a guaranteed eight-year, $100 million deal in total, counting this year, with a $10 million buyout on two $17 million option years in 2027 and 2028. So the Braves can control Acuna for up to the next 10 seasons, at a maximum of $134 million. Talk about team-friendly.
If not for having his major league debut delayed into April, and a knee injury that cost him a month, Acuna might have had a historically huge season last year. As it was he hit .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI and 16 stolen bases over 487 plate appearances (111 games), on his way to winning National League Rookie of the Year. He also finished 12th in MVP voting.
Acuna was on track for arbitration eligibility after the 2020 season as a Super Two, and he would have hit free agency after the 2024 campaign. So Atlanta is buying out all of those arbitration years, and up to four free agency years.
The White Sox just gave their own top young player, Eloy Jimenez, $43 million in guaranteed money on a long-term deal. Acuna rightfully commanded more, in money and years, as a reigning Rookie of the Year.
Acuna is set to make $560,000 this year at 21 years old, and he’d have to wait one more season before being in line for a substantial raise via arbitration. So he’s not wrong to turn down no less than $110 million (counting the first buyout), but the Braves are getting a substantial bargain if Acuna fulfills anywhere close to his full potential.