The Atlanta Braves took another step towards locking up their young core, signing 23-year old starting pitcher Julio Teheran to a six-year contract extension worth $32.4 million. The contract also contains a club option for 2020 at $12 million, which would buy out Teheran's second year of free agency. Teheran's contract is comparable to the five-year, $35 million extension signed by Madison Bumgarner in 2012, which contained a pair of $12 million club options as opposed to the one that Teheran's deal has.
Teheran was a four-time top-100 prospects, ranking in the top ten in both 2011 and 2012. 2013 was Teheran's first full year in the majors, and he responded in a big way, tossing 185 2/3 innings of 3.20 ERA baseball, striking out 170 and walking 45. He struggled in April, getting used to big league competition, and was worn down in September, but in the four months in between, Teheran had a 2.57 ERA in 133 innings to go along with 128 strikeouts and 34 walks.
There's always an element of risk when signing young pitchers to contract extensions, but aside from some shoulder tightness during the Spring Training of 2012, Teheran has never had any serious injury problems. He's thrown at least 130 innings in his four seasons in full-season ball, and aside from a disappointing 2012 caused by some tweaks in mechanics and pitch experimentation, he's gotten better each year.
Even if Teheran doesn't progress any further and is just a two win pitcher going forward, the contract extension provides a more than fair value for his services. And hell, if he progresses into an ace, the Braves will look like geniuses – just look at the incredible values that the Giants and White Sox are getting from Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale after they were signed to below-market extensions.