Braves Name Three Star For contract extensions

In baseball, the Atlanta Braves are a little like unicorns. Teams usually have a core group of older players under contract, while the majority of their younger players remain eligible for arbitration. Some teams—the Rays, Pirates, Mariners, and Guardians—concentrate only on developing young players and letting them go when they become expensive, but the Braves have chosen a very different route.

 

The Braves have been very careful to lock down nearly all of their core players to contract extensions, in addition to having a good blend of young talent and veteran signings. While some of those extensions have been more advantageous to the organization than others, Atlanta’s ability to both retain players they have added in recent years and bring in new ones is quite unique in the league.

Instead, we will concentrate on the Braves players who have a chance to sign a contract in 2024. While there are some doubts about all three of these players going into the 2024 campaign, they also possess the ability to establish themselves as major players and persuade Alex Anthopoulos to extend an offer.

Instead, we will concentrate on the Braves players who have a chance to sign a contract in 2024. While there are some doubts about all three of these players going into the 2024 campaign, they also possess the ability to establish themselves as major players and persuade Alex Anthopoulos to extend an offer.

With a club option for 2026 and an extension through at least the 2025 season, Orlando Arcia is a bit of an odd situation here for the Braves. But now that it’s looking like an unbelievable steal, the initial three-year agreement that guaranteed Arcia $7.3 million might only be the start of the money he could receive from the Braves.

With little fanfare, Atlanta acquired Arcia in 2021 in exchange for Patrick Weigel and Chad Sobotka. Arcia was once considered a top prospect, but during his more than five years with Milwaukee, he battled consistency at the plate. Though everyone assumed it would go to Vaughn Grissom, Arcia wound up taking the starting shortstop spot out of spring training last year, and the Braves have never looked back.

Arcia will need to demonstrate his ability to perform throughout the season in order to receive another deal. Arcia’s play at the plate has been more erratic, but his defense at shortstop is unquestionable. He scored 109 wRC+ in the first half of 2023, earning a spot in the All-Star Game. He did, however, falter in the second half, hitting.235 with a wRC+ that was far below average. The Braves may need to consider giving him a raise and extending his contract if he can demonstrate that he can bat for average throughout the season in addition to being a solid defense in 2024.

Hurston Waldrep is the last player remaining on this list who hasn’t yet made his major league debut. The fact that Waldrep was available to the Braves with the 24th pick in the previous year’s draft surprised them. They gladly snapped him up, and in his first season as a pro, he shot up through the minor league ranks to Triple-A, producing a 1.53 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 29.1 innings of work.

A truly unfair splitter among other tantalizing things, Waldrep’s success has put him in the running to make his big league debut in 2024. This spring, Waldrep received an invitation to big league camp, and once he sees action, more people will probably become aware of him. It is not a matter of if, but rather when he will make his major league debut.

However, there are several problems with this. First off, even though pre-debut extensions are becoming more popular than they once were—players like Colt Keith (Tigers), Jackson Chourio (Brewers), and Luis Robert Jr. (White Sox) are just a few recent examples—Atlanta usually waits to lock players down until they have some major league experience. Second, giving out a pitching extension to Waldrep is intrinsically riskier; thus, Spencer Strider’s extension is the only noteworthy one the Braves have offered an arm.

But the Braves could be smart to extend Waldrep if he does make his Major League Baseball debut in 2024 and he shows promise on the mound. Atlanta could use some future stability in their starting rotation with Max Fried’s future with the organization in doubt and Charlie Morton’s career coming to an end. If Waldrep can maintain control over his command, he has a chance to be a great arm. This might easily backfire, particularly if Waldrep is injured, but Waldrep might end up being worth the risk.

 

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