Even fans who don’t live anywhere near Cobb County can’t be too displeased anymore with the Atlanta Braves’ move away from Turner Field to a new home in 2017.
The projected revenue hike from the suburban ballpark has allowed the team to lock up most of its young core of talent, seemingly guaranteeing success on the field for years to come.
The latest to get a long-term deal was Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who received a seven-year extension on Thursday worth $58 million.
That pushes the guaranteed money the Braves have committed to the past few weeks to $280 million, not counting options and incentives that could put the figure well over $300 million.
Simmons’s contract, which is the largest ever for a player with one to two years of major league time, runs through 2020 and covers his arbitration years plus two seasons of potential free agency.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Simmons told reporters in Florida, where the Braves held their second full-squad work. “I know I’m happy though. I can tell you that. I’m really happy.”
Simmons gets a $1 million signing bonus to go with a $1 million 2014 salary, then $3 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016, $8 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018, $13 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020.
Who says defensive is underappreciated?
Simmons, 24, hit just .248 in his first full season last year, but won the Platinum Glove as the best overall fielder in the National League while setting new standards in certain metrics.
“For us it was something of a no-brainer that he was going to be part of the core of young players that we wanted to sign long-term,” general manager Frank Wren told reporters in Florida.
“We believe he’s the premier shortstop in the game.”
Over a two-week stretch the suddenly free-spending the Braves have signed first baseman Freddie Freeman to a franchise-record five-year, $135 million contract, given closer Craig Kimbrel a four-year, $42 million deal with a fifth-year option, tied up starting pitcher Julio Teheran to a six-year, $32.4 million extension and tendered right fielder Jason Heyward a two-year, $13.3 million deal.
Next up for the Braves could be Mike Minor or fellow starter Kris Medlen.
“I’m not saying they’ll be more this year, but there will be more as we go forward,” Wren said of locking up players long term.
Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez are also under contract now past 2014, having received contract extensions themselves that were announced on Wednesday.