Braves sign Ender Inciarte to a five-year, $30.525 million extension

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The Atlanta Braves have signed outfielder Ender Inciarte to five-year, $30.525 million contract extension. There is a club option or a sixth year. The deal gives Inciarte a $3.5 million signing bonus, and then salaries of $2 million in 2017, $4 million in 2018, $5 million in 2019, $7 million in 2020, $8 million in 2021, and then a $9 million club option for 2022 with a $1.025 million buyout of it’s not exercised.

Inciarte made $523,000 in 2016, his third in the majors. This deal buys out all of his arbitration years and two of his potential free agency years. He just turned 26.

That’s a pretty fantastic deal for the Braves, who enjoyed Inciarte’s fantastic center field defense while seeing him post a .291/.351/.381 line at the plate in 2016. He is one of the top baserunners in the game as well.

Inciarte came over to the Braves along with top prospect Dansby Swanson in the trade which sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks before last season. It was already a heist for the Braves given Swanson’s promise, but Inciarte, whose 2016 season was worth 3.6 WAR, would’ve made it a great deal for Atlanta if only he came over.

And not he’s locked up to a team-friendly deal for a long, long time.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.