The Atlanta Braves did something quite unexpected this morning and re-signed closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year extension with a club option in the fifth year. The deal is reported to be worth $42 million, and the structure of the contract is as follows:
Signing Bonus – $1 million
2014 – $7 million
2015 – $9 million
2016 – $11 million
2017 – $13 million
2018 – (Club option) $13 million
Now, what does this mean for the Braves? Kimbrel makes the fourth player that the team has extended this offseason and the third that will be for more than three years. The only guy that got less was Jason Heyward for two. In these four extensions, the team will be paying $222.7 million on these players during their contracts. Most people are also assuming that Andrelton Simmons will be getting an extension before he hits arbitration next season, but the numbers on his contract seem to be all over the place. Add those those contracts the $13 million that Dan Uggla will pull the next two seasons and B.J. Upton will get $13.45 million this year, and the Braves have used more money in the past two seasons that most can remember them ever spending on a team.
The Kimbrel deal does a few things for the ball club. First, barring injury, it gives the team 40-50 saves a year based on what he has done since he came up to the big league club. The second thing has nothing to do with Kimbrel himself. If the Braves are going to lock up Simmons, then they may be running short on resources until a few contracts are either dropped or re-evaluated. The question then becomes, “What do we do with Kris Medlen or Mike Minor?” This is a question that GM Frank Wren will have to answer in a short amount of time.
Overall, the Kimbrel deal is nothing but a win for the Braves if he can stay healthy. It’s also easy for the fans to keep getting more excited about their team than they have been able to in a while. There is no Brian McCann and no Chipper Jones, but the team has put its foreseeable future into the hands of Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran and Kimbrel. Not a bad group to do so with.