How Braves secured their lineup for years to come

January 5th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

As Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos has locked up many of his top players for much of the next decade, he may have been motivated by his childhood years, when his beloved Expos weren’t able to keep many of their young stars long term.

“I saw a lot of players leave,” Anthopoulos said. “I know what it was like that our good young players were being traded away or that they couldn’t keep them. So I think there’s a small part of me that feels from a fan base, you can buy this guy’s jersey because he’s going to be here a while.”

Sorry to those of you holding Dansby Swanson or Freddie Freeman jerseys. As for those of you with Jake Odorizzi jerseys, I really don’t know what to say.

But seriously, it is remarkable what the Braves have done over the past year, and even farther back when both Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies signed extensions in 2019. Matt Olson was acquired from the A’s last March and received an eight-year deal a day later. Sean Murphy was acquired from Oakland on Dec. 12 and inked a six-year deal last week.

There is obvious risk. Had Mike Soroka been given an extension after his fantastic 2019 season, the Braves would currently be feeling remorse. But the potential benefits seem to outweigh the risks.

“We do like the fact that guys can just worry about going out and playing,” Anthopoulos said. “They don't have to worry about making a certain salary or getting certain statistics and so on, and that they know they're going to be here.”

Current eighth graders can project what the Braves’ lineup might look like when they are high school seniors.

Murphy (catcher), Olson (first base), Albies (second base), Austin Riley (third base), Michael Harris II (center field) and Acuña (right field) are all under control by the Braves through the 2027 season. So, too, is Spencer Strider, who is the only recent pitcher to gain an extension from Atlanta.

In today’s sports world, it’s crazy to think you could confidently project how 70 percent of a lineup might look five seasons from now.

Players under club control through 2027: Murphy, Harris, Strider, Olson, Acuña, Albies ($7M option in 2026 and '27) and Riley

Through 2028: Murphy, Harris, Strider, Olson, Acuña ($17M club option) and Riley

Through 2029: Murphy ($15M club option), Harris, Strider ($22M club option), Olson and Riley

Through 2030: Olson ($20M club option), Riley (guaranteed through 2032 with a $20M club option for '33)