The Atlanta Braves re-signed several young players this offseason, making a statement that they’re going to keep the nucleus intact for years. But it’s the way they structured their contracts that are the true statement.
First baseman Freddie Freeman, center fielder Jason Heyward and pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran are all locked in to contract extensions, staying in Atlanta for at least the next two years. Some, like Freeman, who is signed through the 2021 season, will be in Atlanta for a long time.
Here’s a look at the four contract extensions – you may notice a pattern.
Of the three contracts that go beyond 2016, they all take a pretty noticeable jump for the 2017 season. The reason why is simple: They’ll start playing in the new Cobb County stadium in 2017.
This is good for several reasons. For one, it confirms, once and for all, that the Braves really are moving. This process has moved slowly and has been pretty fuzzy since the big announcement was made months ago, so it’s good to see the franchise putting its money where its mouth is – literally.
The contracts also tell us the Braves are expecting to have new revenue sources when the new stadium opens. They wouldn’t give these guys huge raises in 2017 if they weren’t expecting to make a lot more money off their product when the team moves to the suburbs.
That could either mean they’re confident attendance will jump significantly, or they expect the surrounding restaurants and shops to bring in the bucks like Turner Field never could. Again, it’s a comforting sign, because I really want the “FanPlex” idea to come to fruition.
Or, the Braves could just jack up ticket prices to an astronomic level in the new stadium. But let’s hope they avoid that route.