The Atlanta Braves continued a flurry of activity in the month of February, announcing a seven-year contract extension with shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Thursday.
The deal contains no option years and runs through 2020, covering his two remaining pre-arbitration years, all three arbitration-eligible seasons and two years of free-agency. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that it will pay the 24-year-old defensive wizard a $1 million signing bonus and a total of $58 million over the life of the contract.
“We feel that Andrelton is one of the premier shortstops in the game today and we are happy that we were able to agree on this multi-year contract,” said general manager Frank Wren in the team release.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman provided a yearly salary breakdown of the deal:
- 2014: $1 million (plus $1 million signing bonus)
- 2015: $3 million
- 2016: $6 million
- 2017: $8 million
- 2018: $11 million
- 2019: $13 million
- 2020: $15 million
That averages out to just under $8.3 million per season, making Simmons the latest in a group of young core players to sign multi-year deals with the Braves over the past three weeks. He joins Freddie Freeman (8-years, $135 million), Craig Kimbrel (4-years, $42 million), Julio Teheran (6-years, $32.4 million) and Jason Heyward (2-years, $13.3 million), all of whom gained the financial security of avoiding the arbitration process altogether, whether it be now or in the future.
Atlanta has now committed roughly $28o million (not including option years and possible incentives) to those five players, while also extending the contracts of manager Fredi Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren (financial terms not disclosed). It is a serious investment in the future of the franchise as they head into their new $672 million stadium in suburban Cobb County in 2017.
Among the short list of players who could be next to sign long-term deals with Atlanta could be starting pitchers Mike Minor and Kris Medlen, both of whom avoid arbitration with one-year contracts over the winter.
Simmons led all National League shortstops with 499 assists while earning his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2013. He was also named the NL’s Platinum Glove Award Winner, which recognizes the best overall fielding player in the league. Simmons turned in a 5.4 DWAR (defensive wins above replacement in 2013) while accounting for plus-41 DRS (defensive runs saved), which is the best single season mark in the 11 years that statistic has been kept.
Though his glove justifiably attracts Simmons the most attention, he took major strides at the plate in 2013. He batted .248/.296/.396 with 17 homers, 59 RBI and 76 runs scored in his first full major league season. Those 17 home runs were fourth most by a shortstop in the NL and fifth most in MLB.
Last season was really a tale of two halves at the plate for Simmons. After turning in just a .243/.282/.348 slash line in 90 games prior to the All-Star break, he slugged nine home runs and had a .255/.316/.472 mark in 67 contests thereafter.
Simmons has seen his power grow exponentially in the last calender year as well. It took him 361 games to collect the first 14 home runs of his professional career (minors included), but just 75 contests to belt his last 12. He also has a penchant for making contact, proving fourth toughest to strikeout in all of baseball last season – just once every 11.96 at-bats.
Combine that budding power with room to grow at the plate and his unparalleled defensive ability, and it’s easy to understand why the Braves decided to invest heavily in Simmons.
Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.