Braves sign manager Snitker to extension through 2025 season

Brian Snitker
Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, coming off the team’s fifth consecutive NL East title, signed a contract extension on Friday that runs through the 2025 season.

Snitker, 67, guided the Braves to the 2021 World Series championship before the team won 101 games last season.

Snitker said Saturday he is excited about the future of the Braves, who have locked up many core players to long-term deals despite losing shortstop Dansby Swanson and first baseman Freddie Freeman as free agents in back-to-back offseasons.

Snitker applauded the work of general manager Alex Anthopoulos in signing newly acquired catcher Sean Murphy and others to long-term deals.

“We’ve done a good job,” Snitker said at the Braves Fest for fans at Truist Park. “I think now you’re going to see the core group of these guys here every year for this thing. I think that’s what Alex does, keeping those young, quality guys around.”

Murphy signed a $73 million, six-year contract after he was acquired from Oakland. He is going to share playing time with Travis d'Arnaud.

The Braves also reached long-term deals with sluggers Austin Riley and Matt Olson, as well as rookie stars Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider, in the past year.

The Braves have signed outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies to similar deals. The team has seven core players under contract for at least three more seasons, and club options could extend the deals even more.

The Braves plan on a 2022 rookie, Vaughn Grissom, competing with Orlando Arcia at shortstop in spring training.

Now Snitker is on board for at least three more seasons. He will be entering his 47th year with the organization and his seventh full season as Braves manager. He took over as interim manager on May 17, 2016, before landing the full-time position later that year.

He has a 542-451 record with Atlanta following more than 1,300 wins in the minor leagues.

After waiting so long for his opportunity to manage in the majors, Snitker has shown no sign he’s thinking of retiring. He said he’s making one change in his offseason routine – repeat visits to Hawaii for longer vacations after taking his wife, Ronnie, on their first one-week visit after last season.

“That’s the first time I’ve taken a non-baseball-related trip with my wife,” Snitker said.

“I said if I’m going to keep working, we’ve got to start doing this every year. … I’m going for longer next time.”

Snitker finished third in the manager of the year voting last season after winning the award in 2018. He also was a finalist for the honor in 2019 and finished fourth in 2020 and 2021.

Snitker is the first manager in franchise history to take the team to the postseason five times in his first six full seasons.

Royals’ John Sherman optimistic about new ballpark, current team

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The first thing that Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman thinks about when he wakes up each morning is how the club, stuck in what seems like an interminable rebuild, will play on that particular day.

Not where they will play four or five years down the road.

Yet given the modest expectations for a team that lost nearly 100 games a year ago, it makes sense many Royals fans are just as interested – quite possibly more so – in the plans for a downtown ballpark than whether infielder Bobby Witt Jr. can double down on his brilliant rookie season or pitcher Brady Singer can truly become a staff ace.

That’s why Sherman’s second thought probably moves to the downtown ballpark, too.

“This is a huge decision, and I look at it as maybe the most important decision we’ll make as long as we have the privilege of stewarding this team,” Sherman said before the Royals held a final workout Wednesday ahead of opening day. “I’m probably as anxious as you to get moving on that, but it’s a complicated process.”

The Royals have called Kauffman Stadium home since the sister to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, opened 50 years ago next month.

And while most stadiums are replaced because they have become outdated, the unique, space-aged look of Kauffman Stadium – built during an era in which teams trended toward impersonal, multisport concrete donuts for their homes – remains beloved by Royals fans and visitors alike.

The problem is that despite numerous renovations over the years, the very concrete holding the ballpark together has begun to crumble in places. The cost simply to repair and maintain the ballpark has become prohibitive.

So with the decision essentially made for them to build an entirely new stadium, the Royals revealed plans to build an entire development in the same mold of The Battery Atlanta, where the Braves built Truist Park, and the Ballpark Village in St. Louis, where the new Busch Stadium is merely the centerpiece of a whole entertainment district.

No site has been secured, but several of the most promising are in downtown Kansas City, where the Power & Light District along with T-Mobile Center have spearheaded a successful era of urban renewal.

Sherman has said that private funds would cover the majority of the stadium cost and the entire village, each carrying a price tag of about $1 billion.

But if any public funding will be used, as it was to build and maintain Kauffman Stadium, then it would need to be voted upon, and the earliest that it could show up on a ballot would be August.

“You look at Atlanta, they took some raw ground – they started with 85 acres – and that has been a complete home run,” said Sherman, who purchased the Royals in August 2019, shortly before the pandemic wreaked havoc on team finances.

“This is one of the reasons we want to do this: That’s helped the Braves become more competitive,” Sherman said of the vast potential for increased revenue for one of the smallest-market teams in baseball. “They have locked up and extended the core of their future, and the Braves are in a great position from a baseball standpoint.”

So perhaps the first two thoughts Sherman has each day – about performance and the future – are one and the same.

When it comes to the team itself, the Royals were largely quiet throughout the winter, though that was by design.

Rather than spending heavily on free agents that might help them win a few more games, they decided to stay the course with a promising young roster in the hopes that the development of those players would yield better results.

In fact, Sherman said, the club has been discussing extensions for some of the Royals’ foundational pieces – presumably Witt, who was fourth in voting for AL rookie of the year, and Singer, who was 10-5 with a 3.23 ERA last season.

“We’re having conversations about that as we speak,” Sherman said. “We have a number of young players that we’re trying to evaluate and we’re talking to their representatives about what might work.”

Just because the Royals’ roster largely looks the same, that doesn’t mean nothing has changed. The Royals fired longtime general manager Dayton Moore in September and moved J.J. Picollo to the role, then fired manager Mike Matheny in October and replaced him with longtime Indians and Rays coach Matt Quatraro.

Sherman said the new voices created a palpable energy in spring training that he hopes carries into the regular season.

“When we acquired the team, we had three primary objectives,” Sherman said. “One was to win more games; we’re working on that. The second was to secure the future; that’s what (the stadium) is. And the third was to do good in the community.

“But the first priority,” he said, “is really the on-field product. That’s what really lifts everything else up.”