Braves, Ronald Acuña Jr. agree to eight-year, $100 million extension

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The Atlanta Braves and star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. have agreed to an eight-year, $100 million contract extension. The deal includes two club options at $17 million each year, with a $10 million buyout. In all the deal, if both options are exercised, the Braves max payout is $124 million over ten years.

As far as structure goes, Acuña will earn $1 million in both 2019 and 2020, $5 million in 2021, $15 million in 2022 and $17 million annually from 2023-26. His average annual salary will be $12.4 million. There is no no-trade clause, as the Braves do not hand those out, ever. There is no opt-out. There are not even any incentives in the deal.

Acuña is only 21 years-old, but is already one of the top young stars in the game. Last year he hit .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 487 plate appearances en route to the 2018 N.L. Rookie of the Year Award. His counting stats might’ve been higher, but the Braves kept him down in the minors a few weeks to gain an extra year of team control. Now they have him for as much as a decade for a very, very modest outlay all things considered.

How modest? Time will tell, but if Acuña fulfills the promise he has shown in his young career the Braves are going to get a serious bargain for 8-10 years of control. This deal gives the Braves cost-controlled age 27, 28 and 29 seasons which would’ve otherwise been free agent years. Right now guys like Harper, Trout and Machado are making north of $30 million for those years. In several years, what might Acuña have made if he continues on the trajectory most think he will? It’s fair to say that those three seasons alone would run in excess of $100 million and the Braves will get that, plus five more of his prime, for that amount. Three of those years will be arbitration years that, based on the example of Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado, could be worth more than $20 million a pop. Plus the Braves get the option to keep him beyond it.

Not that Acuña is going to be wanting for anything. It makes total sense for him to take this deal now and to secure his financial future given that he’s many, many years from getting the sort of leverage that can earn him a larger pay day. Such is the new normal with young superstars in Major League Baseball.

MORE: What we mean when we say that $100 million is “a bargain.”

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.