Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been adamant about making long term commitments to pieces that he feels are critical to the Braves future, and our young MLBbro Michael Harris II was the latest to reap the benefits.
In a move that surprised many (Harris is still under his rookie deal), Harris signed an eight-year extension worth $72 million, with a two-year club option that could push the deal to 10-years, $102 million. Harris has shined since he was called up, and the Braves clearly wanted to send a message that he is indeed a part of their core.
Alex Anthopoulos continues to lock down Braves to long-term deals:
💰 Ronald Acuña Jr. — 8 years, $100M
💰 Ozzie Albies — 7 years, $35M
💰 Matt Olson — 8 years, $168M
💰 Austin Riley — 10 years, $212M
💰 Michael Harris II — 8 years, $72Mhttps://t.co/G62bgBSe2C pic.twitter.com/hh7ntIoeYM
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 17, 2022
Harris is hitting .287 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI, while being a perfect 13-for-13 on stolen bases. Not only has Harris performed at the plate, but he has been one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game since the day he stepped foot in The Bigs.
There is always skepticism whenever players sign what appear to be team friendly deals, but the Braves have developed a formula that both rewards young players while positioning the franchise to win for years to come.
The deal signed by Harris is the third highest guarantee in MLB history for a player with less than one full year of service time. The second? Fellow Braves outfielder Ronnie Acuna Jr.’s eight-year, $100 million deal.
The deal is a win for both parties involved, mainly because it avoids two pre-arbitration years and four years of arbitration for a player who is clearly outpacing his current deal. When you look at the current situation with Aaron Judge and the Yankees, this is a win for all parties involved. Rewarding a young player at this point shows him how invested you are in them going forward.
The Braves have invested in one of the best young cores in baseball, locking up outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr, second baseman Ozzie Albies, first baseman Matt Olson, third baseman Austin Riley and now Harris all until at least 2025. With such a diverse core, Atlanta now has positioned itself to be extremely aggressive this offseason.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson, another home-grown prospect, is a free agent this offseason and will be a hot commodity. Do the Braves resign Dansby or go shopping in a loaded free agent market that includes Platinum Glove winner Carlos Correa?
If they don’t want to spend on Correa, they have another young MLBbro in Vaughn Grissom who has also shown he’s ready for the show. Grissom has played second base with the absence of Albies, but his presence provides even more flexibility for the Braves.
The options seem to be endless for Atlanta but seeing Money Mike manning centerfield is a lock for the foreseeable future.