Friday, February 21, 2014

The Braves Are Locked In And Loaded With Youth

I know that I have mentioned in past posts how many teams have been locking in their young talent to long term contracts before letting them reach free agency. So far this 2014 season, the Atlanta Braves have gone way above and beyond in locking up their young talent. This offseason/spring training the Braves have extended Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons. These are five players that are 26 years of age and under. They also join the B.J. and Justin Upton who are 29 and 26 respectively, Evan Gattis at 27. Even counting the old man in the group (Dan Uggla is 34), this is a core group that will be together for at least another two seasons.

Courtesy of Baseball Reference.com 
Heyward, Uggla and Upton are signed through the 2015 season. B.J. Upton and Kimbrel are signed through 2017. Gattis is under contractual control through 2018. Teheran is signed though 2019. Andrelton Simmons is signed through 2020. Freddie Freeman is signed until 2021. The Braves do need to address their starting pitching but then again what team in the majors doesn't. Aside from that I think the Braves are poised for some special things to come in the future.

I have to admit that I like how teams are locking up their talent. Though I still think a maximum of a five-year deal is ideal for Baseball contracts, giving a player who is 24 a seven or eight-year deal is much more appealing than giving a player in his 30's the same kind of deal. It is also promising to see teams making a real effort to invest in their young players by signing them long term and paying them rather than utilizing the system to just keep control of the players and letting them walk after the end of their rookie contracts. I think it sends the right message to the fan base that the team is committed to winning with their homegrown players year in and year out.

I hate to wax poetically about this, but I think that it is important that fans (especially the younger fans) grow up watching the same group of players on the field like it was in yesteryear. I understand the economic dynamics are different from then to now, but it is good to feel that young fans will be able to follow their favorite players on their teams for hopefully the player's entire career. That remains to be seen but I think the teams are not only do right by their bottom lines but by their fans as well.

Sisco Kid