Braves sign Wren, Gonzalez to contract extensions
Following NL East title last season, GM and skipper were in final years of their pacts
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the Braves took the field for the first full-squad workout on Wednesday morning, general manager Frank Wren and skipper Fredi Gonzalez had the comfort of knowing that "lame duck" status will not apply to either of them this season.
Both Wren and Gonzalez have gladly discussed the extensions that Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran and Jason Heyward received over the past couple of weeks. Now they have the satisfaction of knowing that the Braves are also committed to keeping them around a little longer.
Team president John Schuerholz confirmed the news on Wednesday when he announced the extensions. The club opted not to reveal the length of the deals given to Wren and Gonzalez, both of whom were entering what would have been the final year of their existing contracts.
"We are beginning a new year," Schuerholz said. "We look forward with great anticipation and enthusiasm. We've restructured our club and we restrengthened or reaffirmed our leadership of the organization with the general manager and the manager. It's an appropriate time to do it. We are delighted and happy that we got it done and that they will be doing their jobs for us on a continuing basis."
Schuerholz added that he never planned to send either into this season with uncertainty surrounding his immediate future.
"It's just not the way to run a company," he said. "We just don't do that. These guys deserve more than that, better than that, and that's why we did it."
Not only are the durations of the extensions unknown, it is not known whether they are of equal length.
"We chose not to discuss any of the details because we didn't want that to be the subject of the story, now or in the future," Wren said. "We're not the story. The story is right there on the field, with the players. You don't want those kinds of distractions going forward. I think everybody is happy we're extended and looking forward to the season."
Wren has received praise for the recent long-term agreements reached with Freeman, Kimbrel and Teheran, but even before he began strengthening the club's future with these deals, the Braves had already planned to extend his contract.
"I love being here, and I love being part of what we're doing," Wren said. "I'm excited about it."
Wren assumed his current role when Schuerholz ended his long, successful reign as GM after the 2007 season. Wren was tasked with guiding the Braves through a rebuilding year in 2008, but since then he has positioned the club into a playoff contender on an annual basis.
Since the start of the 2009 season, the Braves have made three trips to the postseason and won more games than any other National League club. The Yankees and Rangers are the only other Major League teams that have notched more wins than the Braves over the past five seasons.
"[Wren and Gonzalez] are guys who have done wonderful jobs in their leadership positions in this organization," Schuerholz said.
Since assuming the unenviable task of becoming Bobby Cox's successor after the 2010 season, Gonzalez has given Wren reason to believe he picked the right man for the job. The Braves advanced to the postseason in 2013 for a second straight year after capturing the NL East title.
"I am happy to have the opportunity to stay here," said Gonzalez. "It's a place you like to be and a place you want to be for a long time."
Since Gonzalez took the helm, the Braves have recorded more wins (279) than any other NL club. That's one shy of the Major League-leading total Texas notched during this three-season span.
"Fredi has done a good job," Wren said. "I continue to see him get more and more comfortable. It was a hard spot he was put in, following Bobby Cox. I don't think people really recognize what a good job he has done."