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Albies, Braves agree to deal through 2025

Seven-year extension worth $35 million, with options for '26, '27
@mlbbowman
April 11, 2019

ATLANTA -- Less than three years removed from fracturing his elbow while simply swinging a bat, Ozzie Albies has gained nearly a decade’s worth of financial security and the comfort of knowing he’s going to spend many more years filling the Braves’ lineup with his good friend Ronald Acuña Jr.

ATLANTA -- Less than three years removed from fracturing his elbow while simply swinging a bat, Ozzie Albies has gained nearly a decade’s worth of financial security and the comfort of knowing he’s going to spend many more years filling the Braves’ lineup with his good friend Ronald Acuña Jr.

Before Thursday night’s game against the Mets, the Braves announced they signed Albies to a seven-year, $35 million contract extension that includes options for the 2026 and '27 seasons. Both club options are worth $7 million and include a $4 million buyout.

If both options are exercised, the Braves would control Albies at a cost of $45 million over nine seasons. The $5 million average annual value would prove to be a bargain if the 22-year-old second baseman lives up to the promise he enhanced last year, when he earned an All-Star selection during his first full Major League season.

“You are betting on a human being more than anything else,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “Being around Ozzie and getting to know him, there is no one I as a GM feels more comfortable with to give him a deal like this.”

Albies’ deal quickly materialized when the Braves began talking to him immediately after signing Acuna to an eight-year, $100 million extension last week. Both of these young superstars now have the contractual potential to be with the Braves through their respective 30-year-old seasons.

Acuna’s deal, which was announced on April 2 and holds a maximum value of $124 million over 10 seasons, was widely viewed as team-friendly. But while he will begin drawing $17 million on an annual basis when he’s 26 years old in 2023, Albies will draw an average annual salary of $4.42 million through the guaranteed portion of his deal, which expires when he’s 28 in '25.

The Braves bought out four potential free-agent years for Albies, who might have started drawing at least $5 million as early as 2021, which would have been his first arbitration-eligible season.

But with memories of the fractured elbow sustained while playing in the 2016 Southern League playoffs fresh in his mind, the young outfielder was comfortable gaining immediate financial security for him and his mother, who lives in their native Curacao.

"I don't look at it just from money because I'm not playing for money,” Albies said. “I'm playing for my career. I took it because I want my family to be safe."

While it certainly appears Acuna and Albies may have both left a significant amount of money on the table, Anthopoulos continues to point out the team is taking a risk with these long-range expenditures and doing so with the thought both of these players could still draw another big payday at the end of their current deals.

“People will have their opinions,” Anthopoulos said. “But like anything else, when you sign a guaranteed deal, if you’re young enough, you get a second deal on the back end if you play to your capabilities and perform well. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. But we’re hoping for great health and great performance. And we’re hoping there is a second great deal behind this one.”

Albies earned his first All-Star selection when he hit .281 with 20 homers and a .834 OPS during last season’s first half. Fatigue and nagging hamstring discomfort plagued him as he batted .226 with four homers and a .624 OPS during the second half. But the most alarming development came as the young switch-hitter extended concerns about his ability to consistently produce from the left side.

Albies slashed .161/.237/.255 against right-handed pitchers after last year’s All-Star break. But he has shown some improvement as he has slashed .344/.432/.438 through this year’s first 37 plate appearances from the left side.

“I don’t think anybody knows exactly who he’s going to be as an offensive player,” Anthopoulos said. “We know he’ll be a good defender. We’re confident in that. He’ll run the bases and be a great teammate. Plus, we know there’s upside to the bat.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.