Michael Harris II contract latest example of Braves’ aggressive roster management

The Braves have a clear corporate line when it comes to talent: cut the nonsense and ban it early.

They’ve already signed Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley on long-term deals, giving up a lot of team control in the process, instead of making big deals that keep their homegrown players close. The Braves continued that trend Tuesday, signing budding Star Center fielder Michael Harris II on an eight-year, $72 million deal with two team options that could take it by 10 years and $102 million.

It is the third-largest contract for a player with less than a year of service, behind only Acuña with $100 million and the Rays’ Wander Franco ($182 million).

It’s more the same for the Braves and general manager Alex Anthopoulos. This boils down to paying players upfront and ending their contracts on relatively team-friendly terms given the money they’re likely to be worth. Harris and teammate Spencer Strider are among National League favorites for Rookie of the Year.

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Contract details of Michael Harris II

The structure of Harris’ new contract is relatively simple.

It will void the traditional seven years of team control (rookie season, three years of team control, three years of arbitration) and jail him for just eight and up to 10 years for $72-102 million.

His AAV is $9 million per year. He will be a free agent in his 32-year season in 2033 if both options are exercised.

Year salary
2023 5 million dollars
2024 5 million dollars
2025 8 million dollars
2026 8 million dollars
2027 9 million dollars
2028 10 million dollars
2029 10 million dollars
2030 12 million dollars
2031* 15 million dollars
2032* 20 million dollars

* – Club option

The $72 million deal is the third-largest contract in MLB history for a player with less than a year of service.

player team Full contract salary
Wander Franco rays $182 million
Ronald Acuna Jr. brave 100 million dollars
Michael Harris II brave $72 million

Despite long-term contracts

The Braves signing Harris for the deal is just another example of how they build their team with a clear vision.

First base, second base, third base, center field and right field are all designated as long-term, and catcher and shortstop may not be far behind if William Contreras and Vaughn Grissom continue on their good starts to their careers.

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While lucrative at first glance, these deals end up being far more team-friendly than a Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or other veteran superstars. The Braves continue to pitch well, which is why we’re putting those long-term defensive player deals behind them. Harris hits .287 with an OPS of .825 and he’s only likely to get better.

Harris is also a defensive superstar, fifth among center fielders with above-average outs, meaning his floor is what the Yankees and Phillies traded a starting pitcher and top prospect for at close of trade to Harrison Bader and Brandon Marsh, respectively to fetch.

player position conditions AAV year of free agency
Ronald Acuna Jr. RF 8 years, $100 million (up to 10 years, $124 million) $12.5 million 2027, 2028 or 2029 (Club Options)
Matt Olson 1B 8 years, $168 million (up to 9 years, $188 million) 21 million dollars 2030, 2031 (Club option)
Ozzie Albies 2 B 7 years, $35 million (up to 9 years, $49 million) 5 million dollars 2026, 2027, 2028 (Club Options)
Austin Riley 3B 10 years, $212 million $21.2 million 2034
Michael Harris II CF 8 years, $72 million (up to 10 years, $102 million) 9 million dollars 2031, 2032 or 2033 (Club Options)

The Braves have locked both corners in infield until at least 2030, half of their middle infield until 2026, and two-thirds of their outfield until 2027. With their wealth of club options, their window is wide open.

This aggressive way of chasing players may be adopted by more teams. For the Rays to borrow the strategy of locking up Franco could be a sign of the times.

Meanwhile, Anthopoulos has made the MO clear: Play well early, get paid early. It now works for Atlanta.

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