Atlanta Braves Want To Announce Long Time Super Star Man

Remarkably few players have played in Major League Baseball for ten seasons and exclusively with the Braves since 1876. Could any of the players currently on this squad make that list?

Could Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, or any other Braves player be the next Atlanta player to play their whole career for just one team?

Jose Altuve, a second baseman with the Houston Astros, was said to be a “Astro for life” when the team inked him to a new contract extension last week. Phrases like “it’s so rare these days” or “players today just don’t do that” or “it’s refreshing to see this happen because it just doesn’t happen anymore” would frequently follow that declaration.

That made me stop and consider a few things, but the first thing that came to me was the Atlanta Braves and this core group of players who have signed an unusual number of contract extensions at a young age.

Which member of this group has the potential to become a “Brave for life” was the second part of that idea.

Let’s start with the “Brave for life” idea.

Astute readers of Battery Power might recall that we included a little historical aside that relates to this discussion a few years ago. There are only three players in Braves history who have played in Major League Baseball for ten or more seasons while based in Atlanta.

Three.

That number soars to four if you include the Braves’ franchise history dating back to 1876.

Four.

Whose names are missing from the lists?

Hall of Famers: Warren Spahn (Mets, Giants), Tom Glavine (Mets), Eddie Mathews (Astros, Tigers), and John Smoltz (Red Sox, Cardinals).

Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron’s teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, pitched for the Braves for 20 seasons throughout his tenure. But none of them worked for the company their whole careers.
Dale Murphy (Phillies, Rockies), Bob Horner (Cardinals), Rick Mahler (Reds, Expos), Fred Tenney (Giants), Del Crandall (Giants, Pirates, Indians), Tommy Holmes (Dodgers), Glenn Hubbard (Athletics), and Mike Lum (Reds, Cubs) are among the former Braves who don’t belong.

This “lifer list” from the Atlanta period has All-Star catchers Bruce Benedict and Biff Pocoroba, as well as Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.

The only other player in franchise history to accomplish the accomplishment is Braves infielder Sibby Sisti, who played from the World War II era until the mid-1950s.

It is untrue to say that players from the past, at least those of the Braves, would typically play their whole Major League Baseball career with one team.

Brian McCann appeared to have the potential to be a Brave for life fifteen years ago. It seems as though Freddie Freeman’s one-time stint with the Braves would have been excessively sweet ten years ago.

However, McCann departed Atlanta for the Yankees and Freeman; yes, we all know where he ended up, even though the true reasons for his departure may never be known.

Now that all of that past is in the past, the crucial question is: Will any members of the present 2024 squad be able to gain entry into this restricted group?

A look at the contenders is as follows:

Ozzie Albies

Albies has been a multiple All-Star and is now the Braves player with the longest stay. The short second baseman, who turned 27 this past summer, has one of the most team-friendly contracts since free agency started fifty years ago, keeping him under team control through the 2026 campaign.

We may all have to accept the possibility that Albies’ helmet may not be flying off for another team for a few years. Given his age and productivity, it seems possible that the Braves could tear up the last few seasons of his current deal and extend him for at least three more years. However, given all the other long-term deals the Braves are locked into, it doesn’t seem too likely.

A.J. Minter and Max Fried

With only one season left until they become free agents, both pitchers have a good chance of making it to the big leagues.

Starter Fried, who made his debut a week after Albies, is 30 years old and will be pitching this season. Fried is Atlanta’s lefty ace, but given his history of success and the lack of starting quality pitching in either league, it would be surprising to see Fried stick around after this season.

Minter, who turns thirty this year, is another high-leverage reliever, but even if he were extended, he probably wouldn’t take a deal that would keep him in Atlanta for the remainder of his career. Pitching for another ten years as a bullpen arm-for-hire, his left-handedness and durability and effectiveness put him on the way to becoming this generation’s Mike Stanton, a fellow Texan and former Brave.

Ronald Acuna Jr.

Our monarch and current NL MVP, Acuna, Jr., is under team control until the 2028 campaign, meaning that when he hits free agency, he will only be 30 years old.

Kindness.

Could the Braves attempt to secure a five-year contract extension from the first-ever 40/70 player in Major League Baseball history? They could, indeed. Would it imply that for at least some of those years, he would probably make close to $50 million a season? Yes, that’s probably the case.

If an extension isn’t worked out in the next two seasons, it’s difficult to see Acuna, Jr. remaining in Atlanta for the duration of his career, but anything can happen. No matter where he ends his career, assuming he stays healthy and is productive, he will go down as the greatest Braves player of this millennium.

Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II

Thanks to their unexpected success—they placed first and second in the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year vote—these two will always be connected.

Harris II is the player on the current Braves roster with the second-longest team control, having only turned 23 in early March. He is also signed with Atlanta through the 2032 season. Although he has the appearance of a future All-Star, given his youth, he will probably reach free agency when his career reaches its prime.

Strider’s contract with Atlanta is likewise set until 2029. Pitchers’ health is tough to predict, but if Strider stays well, he might become the second pitcher in Atlanta Braves history to pitch for nine seasons while staying with the team, after Rick Camp, that is, unless he departs the team in 2030 in search of better opportunities.

Austin Riley

Last but not least is Riley, a slugging third baseman who, like with Mathews and Jones, hopes to leave his mark on the pantheon of legendary Braves third basemen. Riley is under Atlanta’s ownership until the 2033 season, which falls in Riley’s mid-30s.

Riley may have to move from third to first because Matt Olson’s contract with Atlanta may expire following the 2029 campaign. Atlanta may decide to extend Riley to a non-bank-busting contract if he continues to hit balls out of the park and his contract expires when he starts to age beyond his prime. If they did, he would be able to team up with Jones to go door-to-door with Atlanta as hot-corner horses.

How do you feel? Could Riley be the next Brave for life? Are the Braves going to extend Fried, Albies, or Acuna, Jr.? Will Nacho Alvarez play seventeen years with Atlanta and become a lifelong Brave before having a cup of coffee with the big club this season?

Tell us in the comments section below.

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