The Atlanta Braves announced a two-year contract extension for manager Brian Snitker on Monday, with a team option for a third year:
Snitker, 62, has spent the past three years as Atlanta's manager, compiling a 221-227 record. In 2018 he led Atlanta to its first National League East title and postseason appearance since the 2013 season.
The Braves' resurgence after four straight losing seasons was impressive, led by a young core that should keep the team a contender for years to come.
Ronald Acuna Jr. (.293, 26 homers, 64 RBI, 16 stolen bases) is only 20. Ozzie Albies (.261, 24 homers, 72 RBI) is just 21. Johan Camargo (.272, 19 dingers, 76 RBI) is 24. And while shortstop Dansby Swanson hasn't quite put it all together at the plate yet, the 2015 top overall pick is still just 24 himself.
The Braves also have a bevy of pitchers in their 20s who have either reached the majors or are expected to soon, from veterans like Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb to Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard and Kyle Wright. The Braves haven't quite uncovered their next ace yet, but there's no shortage of talented young pitching coming up the pipeline.
In 2018, the mixture of young players starting to realize their potential and veterans having strong seasons was the special sauce for Atlanta.
"It wasn't one guy one night and the same guy the next night," Foltynewicz told the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "It was really a team thing the whole year. It was really fun to watch."
Maintaining that level of play will be Snitker's task. The NL East will present its challenges, with the Philadelphia Phillies also grooming a talented farm system while the Washington Nationals are a threat for a bounce-back year.
Atlanta is well-positioned for the future, but Snitker and the Braves will not have an easy path back to another division title and postseason berth next year. Still, the team's potential is high, given its young talent, and should be fun to watch as it develops.