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.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 17, 2022
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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.
|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.