Braves take page from Rays’ contract strategies


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Back in 2011, the Tampa Bay Rays gave rookie Matt Moore a five-year, $14 million contract. Before that in 2008, they gave a rookie named Evan Longoria a six-year, $17.5 million contract. Longoria is a three-time All-Star and has since signed a 10-year extension, while Moore is primed to be the next David Price.

The Atlanta Braves may not have got as big a discount on their contract extensions, but they did lock up a handful of young players over the last month. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons signed a deal for seven-years and $58 million. At only 24 years of age, he has a Gold Glove under his belt and hit 17 home runs in 2013.

Simmons joined Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran as players under 25 the Braves signed to long-term deals. With the success each has had early in his career, some may criticize the Braves for over paying for such young players. The reality is that they may have saved even more by giving them extensions now rather than later.

Atlanta has a much higher budget than Tampa Bay ($30 million higher payroll in 2013). This justifies the higher salaries. Even with the large guaranteed totals, Simmons will make only $800,000 giving some wiggle room for the payroll in 2014. With the young stars locked up by the Braves, there will be talent calling Atlanta home during the prime of their careers.