Braves sign rookie Harris to 8-year deal

August 17th, 2022

ATLANTA -- Less than three full months into his Major League career, Michael Harris II has been given a lucrative deal that positions him to remain with his hometown Braves throughout this decade.

Harris and the Braves agreed to an eight-year, $72 million contract late Tuesday night. The deal comes just two weeks after Atlanta and Austin Riley agreed on a 10-year, $212 million deal.

The Braves announced the deal, which includes a $15 million club option for 2031 with a $5 million buyout and a $20 million club option for 2032 with a $5 million buyout. Harris will draw an annual salary of $5 million the next two seasons, an annual salary of $8 million from 2025-26, a $9 million salary in 2027, a $10 million annual salary from 2028-29 and $12 million in 2030.

If both options are exercised, the deal will be worth $102 million over 10 years. Not bad for a guy who had played just one full Minor League season before this year. Harris was drafted in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft and was able to compete at the team’s alternate training site when COVID erased the 2020 Minor League season.

Harris began this season with Double-A Mississippi and made the successful leap to the Majors on May 28. The 21-year-old center fielder has hit .287 with 12 homers and an .825 OPS (best among qualified rookies) through his first 71 career games.

Along with proving himself offensively, Harris has impressed with both his glove and arm. Despite being in the Minors for most of the season’s first two months, he ranks fifth among all MLB center fielders with six Outs Above Average.

Harris is currently MLB’s youngest player, but he stands with teammate Spencer Strider as the top two candidates for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos built a World Series champion in Atlanta last year, and he continues to add to one of the game’s strongest cores. Riley could stick with Atlanta, and Harris’ two option years could keep him controllable through 2032. The eight-year, $168 million deal first baseman Matt Olson signed in March has an option for 2030.

Ronald Acuña Jr. has a club option through 2028, and Ozzie Albies has a club option through 2027. Strider, Vaughn Grissom, William Contreras, Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson are all arbitration-eligible through at least 2026.