When the news came out that the Atlanta Braves were planning to sign new contracts with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman it wasn’t too surprising. Heyward got a decent two-year contract and Freeman was awarded with a massive eight-year deal worth $135 million. Now that came out as a bit surprising considering what Heyward had received and the fact that closer Craig Kimbrel, the other young star that was headed to arbitration hearings, was without an extension.
While that might not make a ton of sense on the surface, it really does make a ton of sense from the Braves perspective. If you just look at the numbers of Freeman then you would likely point out that his 2013 season was the first that he performed that well and there is no guarantee he will repeat it.
That could be true enough except for the fact that last season was the first season that Freeman didn’t deal with a season long vision problem and nagging injury. When you look at his other seasons from the point of view that he couldn’t hold the bat correctly or see the ball, it looks a little better.
It is obvious why Heyward should not warrant a long deal because there are small uncertainties about his health after the unfortunate injuries from last year. The Braves do expect to up his contract when he shows that he has the same long-term value that Freeman has. Kimbrel is different.
For the Braves closer, the actual monetary value of his contract is a little uncertain. Few closers have ever had his amount of success with so few seasons under their belt. Because of that the yearly value is uncertain. That will be set by the arbitration hearing. If the Braves when that hearing, it all but guarantees they can lock him up. If Kimbrel wins then a long-term deal is less certain.
All things considered Freeman is the most certain value and the most guaranteed performer of the three. Though anything can happen, the Braves made a good deal with their young first baseman. It should even some have suggested, likely serve as a bit of motivation for Heyward that the Braves will reward his good performance.