The Atlanta Braves have long been free and easy with their money, but this franchise really has made a habit out of signing players to major long-term contracts over these past few years. Of course, everyone remembers the B.J. Upton signing of last year along with the trade of his brother Justin Upton, yet the 2014 offseason has been just as expensive for Atlanta.
On Tuesday, the Braves and first baseman Freddie Freeman agreed in principle to a eight-year deal that is reportedly worth $135 million. After four years at the big-league level Freeman has definitely proved his worth as one of the National League’s top offensive bats. Needless to say, it’s not surprising in the least to see Atlanta extend the 24-year old slugger.
However, the Braves also made a much smaller move on Tuesday as Jason Hayward was given a two-year extension worth 13.3 million resulting in both sides avoiding arbitration all together. Oddly enough, five years ago Hayward was supposed to be the can’t-miss prospect while Freeman was penciled in as a middle-of-the-road talent with not a ton of upside.
My how the tides have turned. Hayward now has two years to prove himself in a Braves’ uniform or he will likely be shown the door. Meanwhile, Freeman is locked in as the franchise’s first baseman until the end of the decade. Let’s see if the 24-year-old outfielder will enjoy a Freeman-like contract in the near future or if Hayward will have “bust” written across his baseball card for good.