Hey Braves? This whole contract extension business is getting out of hand. The latest young member of their roster to sign a long-term extension with the club is shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who will make $58 million over the next seven years. The extension will take Simmons through the 2020 season when he turns 31 and buys out his first two years of free agency.
2013 was Simmons' first full year in the majors, and his defense set the baseball world on fire. Simmons won the NL's Gold Glove award at shortstop, the Platinum Glove award for the best fielder at any position, and set a record with 41 defensive runs saved. That stellar defense propelled him to 4.7 fWAR, good for 26th-best among position players in baseball, just behind fellow newly-extended teammate Freddie Freeman.
Even if Simmons' bat doesn't take a step forward, his defense alone is worth the contract. But Simmons' bat might progress to the point where it truly makes him a top-tier MVP candidate. Last season, the Curacao-born Simmons hit .248/.296/.396 with 17 home runs, the fourth-highest total among all shortstops in baseball. And Simmons put together that line with just a .248 BABIP, which doesn't jive with his batted ball numbers, meaning that it seems likely to increase and take his triple slash stats along with it.
It's astounding what Frank Wren has managed to do this month. Heading into Spring Training, many Braves fans were bemoaning an offseason that saw them add just two major league players (Gavin Floyd, Ryan Doumit). A few short weeks later, this offseason has turned into a rousing success for Atlanta, with Freeman, Simmons, Julio Teheran, and Craig Kimbrel all locked up for at least the next four seasons.
These extensions aren't the same as the five-year deal that Dan Uggla signed back in 2011 when the Braves acquired him from the Marlins, because Uggla was going into his age 31 season at the time and the Braves were buying out four free agent years. The longest extension of the bunch went to Freeman, and that eight-year deal *ends* in his age 31 season.
It's stunning how Wren has been able to keep Atlanta's core together in such quick fashion. All the team needs to do is extend Jason Heyward further than 2015, which was done earlier this offseason when he got a two-year deal to buy out his final two arbitration years, and the Braves will be in a great position for the future.