After a disappointing end in the NLDS last season, the Atlanta Braves are hungry and determined to live up to the expectations of a fanbase just two years removed from a World Series title. The Braves had a quiet offseason, partially due to the front office reaching long-term deals with most of the young nucleus that made up an integral part of the team during the 2022 season.
Although some in the media believed the team should have made more splash moves after losing embarrassingly to their inner division rival, Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS, the Braves feel entirely comfortable with their approach. It is tough to argue against the plan because the Braves front office has been one of the best in the MLB for quite some time.
Instead of trying to outbid the big fish like the Yankees or the Dodgers, the Braves have consistently gotten long-term bargain deals done with homegrown players. The Braves showcased their tempered approach when they allowed the Chicago Cubs to outbid them and poach their starting shortstop, Dansby Swanson, in free agency, signing him to a seven-year, $177 million deal.
The Braves front office feels they can get similar production from their young players, such as top prospect Vaughn Grissom. This is a gamble because it is so hard to project how a player will fare in the majors, but in his limited time in the big leagues last year, Grissom was able to showcase his raw ability, which made this choice much easier for the front office to make. Instead of breaking the bank and being linked to an aging contract, the Braves are taking a more measured approach that can build success for the long term.
“Since Anthopolous has joined the club in 2017, he has helped the club win four straight National League East titles, a National League Pennant, a World Series Championship, and also signed Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Matt Olson, and most recently Michael Harris II to long-term contract extensions,” John Chuckery of 92.9 The Game said.
Just this past season, the Braves were able to ink two of the most promising young players in baseball to long-term deals that are highly team-friendly. Michael Harris (ROTY) and Spencer Strider, the runner-up for rookie of the year, reached long-term contracts during last season. Strider signed a six-year/ $75 million deal with 75 million fully guaranteed, while ROTY Harris signed an eight-year/ $72 million deal with 72 million fully guaranteed.
These are two absolute bargain signings that will see two of the most promising young players in baseball playing for the Braves through their respective primes. The Braves can utilize this strategy because they know that players love to play for the clubhouse and are treated with the utmost respect. The players also know the best chance for them to win is by taking a team-friendly deal and keeping the young core together so they can build a sustainable model that keeps the team in contention for a World Series for years to come.
The Braves have been fantastic at not linking themselves to contracts that age poorly. It is one of the main reasons they opted to go with Matt Olson instead of paying an aging Freddie Freeman. These tough choices are why the Braves are set up so well for the present and the future, and it is why Alex Anthopolous is considered one of the best GMs in baseball. When a team can win five division titles in a row and consistently win 90-plus games, it is safe to say the top brass knows what they are doing.