Posted: 11:34 am Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

The Braves lock up Freeman and placate Heyward 

By Mark Bradley

091413_braves_35

Surely somewhere Frank Wren is smiling, too. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Not three hours after the Atlanta Braves announced that Jason Heyward had accepted a two-year contract, word spread that Freddie Freeman has also agreed to an extension that is expected to span an even longer term. (Eight years at perhaps $125 million were the numbers offered by Jon Morosi of FoxSports.)

These, duh, are major developments for the Braves, who were tasked with finding ways to placate their gifted young core, which is getting older — and therefore more expensive — by the day. Heyward’s contract runs through the 2015 season, after which he would be eligible to file for free agency. If Freeman indeed has signed for eight years, he’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame before he’s eligible to be a free agent.

Heyward had requested $5.5 million in arbitration; the Braves had offered $5.2 million. Freeman was asking for $5.75 million; the Braves had offered $4.5 million. But here we see that a club often characterized as cheap isn’t above paying retail to keep its homegrown stars, and that’s the best news Braves’ fans have gotten in a long time.

Surely the reason the Braves made no big splash in free agency or even in trades (unless you count Gavin Floyd and Ryan Doumit) was that they’d earmarked a goodly amount of money for roster maintenance. And please note that Craig Kimbrel, whose case is still on the arbitration docket, has asked for $9 million; the Braves offered $6.55 million.

More on this newsy day will be available on myajc.com, our premium site.

Further reading, via myajc.com: How long can the Braves afford their young core?

62 comments
ATLBrown
ATLBrown

Good signing - Freeman is just entering his prime and is a great, consistent hitter with good fielding and leadership qualities.  I have no qualms at all.


I think the 2-year deal for Heyward is good too.  He needs to prove more consistency, and if he does over the next year+, the Braves should lock him in long-term too. 

Bogey
Bogey

NDpoop...I agree that when healthy JHey has been the catalyst for the Braves, but he's been inconsistent and injured a lot. Wren has been trying to sign him on a long term deal, but he Jason and his agent are determined to go to free agency. That is a risk (especially due to his injury prevalence) but also smart, because if he ever DOES play to his potential his payday will be huge....I would consider him at peak a Matt Kemp level player. Big bucks coming.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

Heyward may be underperforming his draft-day projections to this point in his career, but his on-field impact has still been a lot greater than traditional counting stats indicate when you take into account his high walk rate and good defense. The Braves may have been wiser to give him a long term deal before he reaches his potential and his asking price skyrockets. 

adarian652
adarian652

Heyward for two and Freeman til 2015 says one thing to me. They don't have any plans of the outfield they have in place now to be going with them to Cobb County

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

After this colossal Freeman signing, will there be any money left to pay Andrelton....?



...or do the Braves expect Cobb County to pick up that tab, too?





Gman84
Gman84

Crap. How are we gonna re-sign Uggla now

patriotdog
patriotdog

Range Rover,

All evidence to the contrary, as they say.

patriotdog
patriotdog

No, 'the Freddie Deal' is not what Mac should've gotten. I'm a huge Mac fan, he's an Athens guy, as am I, his dad coached at UGA, his mom a nurse at the local hospital...gotta love him. But, he's not

a 100 mil player anymore, regardless of what the Spankees did for him. You don't sign 30 year old, beaten up catchers to eight year deals......

Wren did well today.

Bogey
Bogey

Waredawg - on reason they did the Heyward deal as they did was to save money in '14 ($4+m) vs $5.5m he would've gotten via arbitration.  Unless he tears it up this coming year, they will likely trade him next off-season, and the buying team will have a set salary vs having to go thru arbitration.


Personally, I hope he gets signed long-term, but I believe JHey wants to go to free agency, with no home-town discount

patriotdog
patriotdog

JHey wanted 5.5 for one, he got 6.5ish per for two. About right for him, at this point. he stays healthy and has a couple of productive seasons, as when he. was healthy and leading off last year then he'll get his.

Freeman has absolutely shown that if he stays healthy, he will be a HOFer. Great glove, great bat and great teammate by all accounts. His is the new face of the franchise.

Now.....does Kimbrel get extended? Trickier with closers, by far. Think of the greats who had long careers. Fingers, Lee Smith, Wags, Sutter, Riviera, Gossage. By any measure, lengthy careers as a closer are rare. But, if you have one that's good, you have to pay him. Me? I'd be leery of going more than three years, then try to rework it after the second year if he's still effective.

Anyway, GREAT day for the Bravos.

kenstallings
kenstallings

The right moves and my concerns for the future are now alloyed.  When it was announced that both Freeman and Heyward would go to arbitration I got a sinking feeling that perhaps they did not want to sign long term deals.  Reading about both signing such deals is most excellent news!

Camaro-Bob
Camaro-Bob

100 Mil? So does this me he stat 2 sux like those loosers Struggla and BJ?

ATL25
ATL25

Can't give a 30-yr old catcher a long-term deal

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

The Freddie deal is what they should've done with McCann. If we are doing those deals now? Isn't that progress?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Wrap up kimbrel for three and I'm happy. Freddy deserves it. I hope he gets as much as he can. Go braves. For now. I'm still pissed about the stadium.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Good move on Freeman who has been much more consistent than Heyward.  Both are great guys but Freeman's natural batting stance and swing will manifest far less slumps and droughts than that of Heyward.

And Heyward is not--repeat, not--a leadoff hitter!

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

Braves (2014) - Freeman at 8/125.

D-Backs (2013) - Goldschmidt at 5/32.

Cubs (2013) - Rizzo at 7/41.

As you can see, it pays to be proactive when signing young players. Let's hope Freeman makes that contract look good.


Intruder
Intruder

Yep, they are the last of the big time spenders.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

The Heyward signing just provides some stability for both the team and player. They are paying what Heyward asked for this year (counting the bonus), and put a contract in place for next year with incentives they will gladly pay. Heyward could have made more next year in arbitration but he could have also gotten less. We don't want him worrying about his contract and its awful harsh to hold his broken jaw against him.

The Freeman deal is a great deal for both sides. Freeman should be a gold glove first baseman, and he is a clutch hitter. Look for him to play nearly every day and both drive in runs and same them defensively.

I'd rather see us lock up some of our young talent rather than pay big dollars for free agents. This gives us our number 1 and 3 hitters locked In for a while. The real surprise in this blog is to see so few Uggla and BJ posts.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

"placate"??? Here, munch on another million or two or ten, or a hundred!

Made my day. I think the placating went to the fans. Big day. Great news. When is opening day?

MikeJay
MikeJay

"MikeJay
3 hours ago

Awesome!  Look for Freeman to get a longer deal.  He is the new Chipper they want to build around."


Damn I'm good :)


MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

Hoping they can somehow work something out with Kimbrel and Simmons next. 

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

Great to hear that Freeman is signed long term! Excellent move on Wren's part. 

DHJohnson
DHJohnson

Did yall people forget his numbers as a leadoff man? Braves are not signing a leadoff man. Heyward is it. If he bats his leadoff numbers for 156 or so games, Braves got him at a steal. 

RBI
RBI

Great moves to sign Heyward and Freeman!  For their talent, for the leadership, but mostly to show that the Braves will reward young players --- this should inspire others like Simmons, Minor, Teheran, etc., that if you show the production, you will be paid.

Ulltraman
Ulltraman

If these people are under contract, why are they allowed arbitration? Can a team then go back year after year and reduce their salary via arbitration if the player does not improve? Does not seem fair to the club that a player can ask for more money when they already signed a contract for an agreed upon amount.

-OBrien-
-OBrien-

This is also a sign that the Braves think Heyward will have a big year. 

He wanted $5.5 mil in arbitration, but instead he got 2 years at $6.65 mil per (although the contract is setup differently). IMO, they wanted to get him for next season too at a reasonable price. 

dukeblue219
dukeblue219

Folks wondering about Freeman should check other sites -- it's just breaking right now that Freeman has signed an extension. Fox is reporting that it's over $100MM for Freeman. Great news!

MikeS777
MikeS777

So they are willing to pay Heyward 5 million, but not Freeman?  Anyone else think that sounds a bit backwards?  IMO Freeman and Kimbrel deserve 8-9 million per year.  They are the best of the young core without a doubt.


I'm a little shocked they signed Heyward for 5 million.  Seems to me they could find a journeyman that can produce as much as him for a lot less money.

TomGaff
TomGaff

When Freddie Freeman becomes a FA, he will go to a west coast team(where he is from and parents live), mark it down that I said it. It will not be about the money the Braves offer?

Waredawg
Waredawg

I'm baffled about why this is a big deal or even a good deal for the Braves. Am I missing something ?

Wasn't Jason "ours" for the next two years anyway? So other than avoiding arbitration for the next two years, what was accomplished, and we could have avoided for this year by paying only 5.5 M ( makes us mere mortals pause, doesn't it?). Even if Jason finally had a monster year (still waiting) he wouldn't likely get more than 2-3 M over the 7.8 difference, and if he played to form he was unlikely to get that much in 2015 arbitration. I can understand why Jason did it, the Braves not so much. 


Surely the front office isn't so naive to believe that Jason will give us a hometown discount  after '15 because we voluntarily paid him his perceived worth in his last two years before free agency. And heaven help us if he has another injury riddled season or pulls a BJ, then we've way over paid for '15

with nothing to show for it, not even 1 extra season of control.


This move shows yet again our management (mostly Wren) is clueless about modern baseball economics and roster/payroll construction. Nobody buys out a control year without getting something in return. I guess the masses, i.e. loyal fans, should just be grateful that we should have competitive, contending team, albeit one that will certainly fall short yet again in the postseason (and no matter what DOB contends, we are not improved from last year, nor did we address our playoff deficiencies). After Seattle's victory Sunday, we are now officially the least successful pro sports city in America (Cleveland doesn't count, nobody wants to live there).


But never fear - Signing Heyward to the two years he owed us anyway will certainly be the difference maker for the Braves in '14. Is it any wonder that attendance has declined and stagnated. I'd say football couldn't get here soon enough, but we are talking about the Falcons and Dawgs. Sigh! There's always next year, there always is.

LumanHarris
LumanHarris

Good old Bird Hair ... never met a dead horse he didn't like to take the whip to.

Birdhair
Birdhair

Mark, the big deal is that nearly 1/3 of our budget is tied up dead weight  -Uggla and BJ Upton. Uggla for 2 more years and B.J for 4 more years. Who tied our hands? Look no further than FW. Why aren't we able to spend? well, look right at those two. Both signed long-term and they are our 2 highest paid players.


Why can't we find a GM who understands how to properly manage a middle market budget?


0 playoff series wins in 6 years. 5 more years until we reach Don Waddell failure status...and Don had to build his team from scratch too....

liberal4life
liberal4life

Giving Kimbrel $9mill for this coming season is ok, but not a long time contract.  He may prove to be like Nolan Ryan and pitch for a long time without getting injured.  But, the probability is that he will suffer an injury during his career.  We should be able to find another Koji Uehara (not necessarily from Japan) if we need to.

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

this reminds me of the scene in Jerry McGuire where the Cuba Gooding character puts McGuire through the wringer....with the end result being "okay, I"m still your client."


All of this sound and fury....just to keep the players that we already have....


go Braves. 

UWreckMeBaby
UWreckMeBaby

Lock Freddie Freeman in for 5 yrs! Kimbrel, I love the guy, but for $9 million can't we get him to pitch the 8th and the 9th? Sometimes at least??

felmercummins
felmercummins

@Ulltraman  


If I understand it right, generally speaking a new MLB player is under contract with the team their first 3 years of service.  After that it becomes, essentially, a 1 year contract that is still heavily weighed in the team's favor in that the TEAM determines whether they want the player back by either agreeing to a contract or going to arbitration.  I don't believe the player has the right to refuse the arbitration - i.e. regardless they stay under the control of the team until they have the 6 years of service to become a free agent.


After 6 years of service, a player can become a free agent by not agreeing to a contract and not accepting arbitration at the end of their contract.


So, to answer you're question, they are and aren't under contract.  They are in the sense that they are still under the Braves' control.  They aren't in that neither side agreed to what their pay will be for the upcoming season.  Essentially Heyward's deal covers the Braves if he has a stellar 2014 season that would push his arbitration numbers north of the $6.6 million plus he's slated to make.  It covers Heyward if he has a seriously down (or injured) year that would push his numbers down.


As much as I like Kimbrel I think it's safe to say that we have, at the most, 2 more years of him as a Brave.

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

@dukeblue219  If that $100 mil is right, then Freeman will be a Brave for the next seven or eight years. Otherwise, the money doesn't make sense.

dukeblue219
dukeblue219

@MikeS777  Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports is reporting Freeman has been extended with a mega deal today.

patriotdog
patriotdog

this is the 8,987,778,798 time that the phrase 'mark it down' has been proven false.

DHJohnson
DHJohnson

lol...Dandy Don Waddell, I miss my Thrashers

Waredawg
Waredawg

@jeffreyd @Waredawg

Don't know that I know enough to be the GM, but still think the Heyward signing was "non-story", basically accomplished nothing because we gained no extra control years. This move like the Floyd signing and the Doumit trade don't improve the team, as compared to last year's roster. I certainly don't think we in a better 

position to "make some noise in the postseason" by this signing. Now the Freeman extension, if true, gives some reason to believe that salary constraints 

will not decimate our young core. We just need to spend some reasonable money to address our roster deficiencies. The offseason has been huge disappointment to those fans who view the team with a critical eye. No analyst has projected the Braves to be as good or better in '14. I hope I'm surprised,  but the stand pat, fill

 holes"on the cheap" off-season doesn't give much cause for unbridled optimism.

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