Over the last two weeks, the Braves have been hard at work, locking up their core for the foreseeable future. They signed first baseman Freddie Freeman for $135 million over eight years, outfielder Jason Heyward for $13.3 million over the next two years, starter Julio Teheran for $32.4 million over six years, and earlier today inked closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year, $42 million deal. Next up on the list? Shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Simmons, 24, will be eligible for arbitration starting in 2016 and can become a free agent after the 2018 season. The Braves are perfectly aware of the value Simmons brings defensively, but as Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the two sides don’t see eye-to-eye on Simmons’ offensive ability going forward. Thus, extension talks — which aren’t expected to begin in the immediate future — will focus on Simmons’ ability to consistently make hard contact.
Simmons hit six home runs in 1,042 plate appearances in the minors, and three in 182 PA with the Braves in 2012. To the shock of many in the baseball world, he broke out with 17 homers last season. Unfortunately, that was the extent of his offensive contributions. He hit .247 and posted a .296 on-base percentage.