Not three hours after the Atlanta Braves announced that Jason Heyward had accepted a two-year contract, word spread that Freddie Freeman has also agreed to an extension that is expected to span an even longer term. (Eight years at perhaps $125 million were the numbers offered by Jon Morosi of FoxSports.)
These, duh, are major developments for the Braves, who were tasked with finding ways to placate their gifted young core, which is getting older — and therefore more expensive — by the day. Heyward’s contract runs through the 2015 season, after which he would be eligible to file for free agency. If Freeman indeed has signed for eight years, he’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame before he’s eligible to be a free agent.
Heyward had requested $5.5 million in arbitration; the Braves had offered $5.2 million. Freeman was asking for $5.75 million; the Braves had offered $4.5 million. But here we see that a club often characterized as cheap isn’t above paying retail to keep its homegrown stars, and that’s the best news Braves’ fans have gotten in a long time.
Surely the reason the Braves made no big splash in free agency or even in trades (unless you count Gavin Floyd and Ryan Doumit) was that they’d earmarked a goodly amount of money for roster maintenance. And please note that Craig Kimbrel, whose case is still on the arbitration docket, has asked for $9 million; the Braves offered $6.55 million.
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Further reading, via myajc.com: How long can the Braves afford their young core?