Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves Agree to 8-Year, $100M Contract Extension

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2019

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. approached third base on his home run hit to left field during the second inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Sunday August 12, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. agreed to an eight-year, $100 million contract extension Tuesday with club options for 2027 and 2028:

Atlanta Braves @Braves

The Atlanta #Braves today agreed to terms with OF Ronald Acuña Jr. on an eight-year contract extension through 2026 worth $100 million, with club options for the 2027 and 2028 seasons. https://t.co/Rm18jswH5r

The 21-year-old Acuna is in his second MLB season. He was named the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year after hitting .293 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 78 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 111 games for the NL East champions.

Through four games this season, Acuna is hitting .214 with one homer, two RBI and one steal for the 1-3 Braves.

The extension buys out three years of arbitration from 2021 to 2023. Acuna could be under contract with Atlanta through the 2028 campaign if the Braves exercise the two club options.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, the deal begins this season, and there's a $10 million buyout on two options worth $17 million each.

Acuna is the latest player to sign a long-term extension amid uncertainty regarding free agency. Both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remained unsigned into spring training. Players are seemingly looking to cash in and avoid a similar fate.

Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola and Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman are among the promising players aged 26 or younger who have signed extensions in recent months.

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Of those players, only Bregman signed an extension worth $100 million—a five-year deal that begins in 2020.

JJ Cooper of Baseball America chimed in on Acuna's extension:

JJ Cooper @jjcoop36

Acuña produced 4.1 bWAR last year as a rookie. If he just maintains that going forward (no improvement) and only plays 111 games a year like last year (lot of pessimistic caveats here), he would produce 33 bWAR over the next 8 seasons=roughly $300 million on open market.

By ensuring Acuna will remain in the fold for at least the next eight seasons, the Braves locked in the cornerstone of a talented young roster that also includes 22-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies.

Acuna will have security from the uncertainty of free agency, and the Braves will have a bargain on their hands provided he becomes the player most expect him to be.

Also, since Acuna is so young, he will have his shot at free agency while still in his prime if he doesn't sign another extension before this deal runs out.

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