The Braves lock up Ender Inciarte, a hugely important player

Atlanta Braves' interim manager Brian Snitker embraces Braves' center fielder Ender Inciarte (11) who still has the ball limn his hand after robbing New York Mets Yoenis Cepedes of a game-winning, three-run home run for the final out in the ninth inning of the Braves' 4-3 victory over the Mets in a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hugs all around. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Here’s a Christmas gift from the Atlanta Braves to … well, themselves. They just re-upped Ender Inciarte for five seasons at $30.525 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The numbers ascend season over season, but what’s noteworthry is that the Braves have bought up Inciarte’s arbitration years, plus the first season after he could have become a free agent, for an average of $5.087 million.

The latest sabermetric estimate — this from Nicholas Stellini of FanGraphs — holds that the ever-escalating value of 1.0 of WAR (wins above replacement) is roughly $8 million. Over three big-league seasons, Inciarte has averaged a 4.2 WAR, per Baseball-Reference. If he were a free agent today, that would put him at $33.6 million per year. The Braves have bought five years of Inciarte for less than that. Clark Howard would be proud.

Oh, and there’s also this: The Braves hold a club option for 2022 at $9 million. If that day arrives and they don’t like him anymore, they can pay him $1.025 million to go away. Chances are they’ll still like him. He’s a very good player. He was third among center fielders in Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. Also according to FanGraphs, he was 21st among all players in baserunning. And, not incidentally, he hit .341 with an OPS of .836 after the All-Star break.

In the two-plus years since they took over, roster-building was the second-biggest concern (after farm-restocking) for John Coppolella and John Hart. That roster has been largely rebuilt, making roster maintenance a bigger deal going forward. This is a deft bit of roster maintenance. The Braves have locked up a 26-year-old center fielder who merits locking up, and they haven’t broken the bank.

Reader Comments 0

12 comments
FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

Jesus. Could ya shut the f$&& up about WAR after Heyward's amounted to being a gloried nothing who may or may not have given a decent rain delay speech to win a title (had shitty stats otherwise) but WOH he had a great WAR. Enciarte is a piece. Not a world changer. But, F, it's not like you have any idea what the difference is.

gama1mom3
gama1mom3

Ender is a real winner. It was a great move to solidify center field and get a true leadoff  hitter at the same time. Now if they will just bring up the other little man, Ozzie Albies, the Braves will be rock solid defensively in the middle of the diamond. 

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

Ender was in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so the Braves had three years of control. Now they've added at least two more plus a third at their discretion. I'm not sure where this leaves Mallex Smith, especially if the Braves are craving more power in the future.

ErnestB
ErnestB

@Bob_the_Blogger


Mallex will be the next man up if/when the Braves decide to trade Markakis.  Otherwise, he will become a valuable trade piece if upgrades are needed elsewhere in the lineup.

SouthFultonCyclist
SouthFultonCyclist

I'm a huge fan of this deal for both sides. Ender gets a well deserved pay raise and the Braves lock up an incredible player through most of his prime for only $30 mill. The Gnats gave up two of the best prospects in baseball to get a player of similar value. That alone shows how valuable Ender is to this team.

CTATTER
CTATTER

Another dumb move paid for by Cobb County taxpayers!!!

OstrichRacer
OstrichRacer

Great move.  Another step back to the real "Braves way" -- professionalism, pitching, and defense up the middle.

gama1mom3
gama1mom3

@OstrichRacer You are spot on here. Ender Inciarte in center field, Dansby Swanson at shortstop, and Ozzie Albies at second base makes the Braves rock solid defensively for years to come!

TideDawg
TideDawg

He was great in the second half, but if that was his peak, then they just wasted $30+ milllion.

rarquant
rarquant

@TideDawg Tide Dawg hasn't a clue. Ender was the biggest sparkplug. He is a bargain at this price!