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


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.”

Cody Bellinger wins 2019 National League Most Valuable Player Award

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Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger was named the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Associated of America. He received 19 of 30 first-place votes.

Bellinger, 24, was the NL Rookie of the Year two years ago and is now the MVP. In 2019, he hit .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs, 115 RBI, 121 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. Among qualified position players in the NL, Bellinger and Christian Yelich tied in Wins Above Replacement at 7.8, according to FanGraphs. Bellinger’s strong year helped the Dodgers win a franchise record 106 games, though they were stopped short in the NLDS by the eventual world champion Nationals.

Bellinger is the first Dodger to win the award since Clayton Kershaw in 2014. He also joins Kirk Gibson, Steve Garvey, Sandy Koufax, and Maury Wills to win the award since the team moved to Los Angeles. Bellinger is overall the 13th Dodger to be named the MVP. He is the 18th NL player to win both a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP award.

Yelich finished in second place and Anthony Rendon finished in third place. They were followed by Ketel Marte, Ronald Acuña Jr., Nolan Arenado, and Pete Alonso. Also receiving votes were Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto, Jacob deGrom, Josh Donaldson, Trevor Story, Jack Flaherty, J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, Max Muncy, Stephen Strasburg, Eugenio Suárez, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, Kevin Pillar, and Max Scherzer.