Folks, the news just keeps on rolling in. Not too long after Ronald Acuña Jr. signed a long-term contract extension with the Braves, his good friend on and off the diamond has joined him. Ozzie Albies recently signed a seven-year contract extension, with a club option for the next two years. Two of the crown jewels from the recent rebuilding project are going to be playing for the Braves for a long time and that’s reason for Braves fans to celebrate. It’s especially a day for Albies to celebrate since he will be getting $35 million dollars from this deal.
Wait, you’re saying that that won’t be his payment for a season? You’re saying that this is all that he’s guaranteed? Sure enough, that’s the case. The deal is seven years for $35 million and the two club options could make it potentially nine years for $45 million.
The Atlanta Braves today agreed to terms with INF Ozzie Albies on a seven-year contract extension through 2025 worth $35 million, with club options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons. #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/lzIYsn7PaM— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 11, 2019
Let’s start with the positives. While it’s a lot less than what Acuña signed for, $35 million is still a life-changing amount of money for anybody. Albies said as much at the press conference when the team announced that the deal was official. You really can’t stress how important it is to make sure that your family is taken care of, and that’s what Ozzie had in mind when he signed this contract.
Albies: "I don't look at it just from money because I'm not playing for money. I'm playing for my career. I took it because I want my family to be safe."— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) April 11, 2019
Ozzie Albies was also thinking of the culture that the Braves have cultivated while he’s been part of the organization. It’s obvious that he has a strong relationship with Acuña and it’s clear that the rest of the team enjoys being around him. Plus, he’s playing for a manager that he loves. Brian Snitker is a beloved figure in that clubhouse, so that surely played a factor in Ozzie’s decision to stay around for the long-haul.
There’s plenty of value in finding a spot where you feel comfortable and Ozzie has clearly found that in the Braves organization. It’s a huge win for the Braves and Ozzie can now play without having to worry about his future being in flux. He’s going to be a member of the Braves for a long time and as fans, we’re glad to have him.
Ozzie Albies will be sticking around Atlanta for a while. pic.twitter.com/GTtQhZ2O75— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) April 11, 2019
Now it’s time to get into the negatives, which is the fact that the Braves have absolutely fleeced Ozzie Albies with this deal. It’s totally understandable that some players don’t prioritize money when it comes to baseball. Ozzie can just look at the guy who’s currently playing right field for the Braves as a kindred spirit in that regard. Still, that is an absurdly team-friendly deal to the point where it’s actually a bit concerning.
Again, just like we didn’t have to look far to see just how much of a bargain the Braves were getting for Ronald Acuña, you can just look at the current roster to see how cheap this is going to be for the Braves. In fact, you can look at the same exact spot. Joel Sherman of The New York Post laid it out plainly with this tweet.
So if #Braves pick up 2028 options for Acuna/Albies, the total will be $24M or just $1M more than they are paying Donaldson this season.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) April 11, 2019
That’s $24 million in 2028 money, which means that this will be peanuts for the Braves by then. In fact, it’s probably peanuts for the Braves now so by 2028, it’ll just be peanut shells. Plus, if the Braves for some absurd reason decide that they want to trade Albies before the deal ends, they should have tons of suitors just for the sole reason that the contract is so team-friendly.
Then there’s the fact that no matter how you slice it, Ozzie Albies will be underpaid for the entire duration of this deal. This is the type of deal that players who are at or slightly floating above replacement level tend to get. Instead, this is going to be going to a player who nearly had a 4.0 fWAR season in his first full season in the bigs and projects to be playing at a perennial All-Star level. Dan Szymborski summed it up with his article on the deal, and it’s really jarring to think about how much money Ozzie just left on the table here.
So even in the case that ZiPS is horribly overrating Albies, he’s still likely to be underpaid by at least $100 million for his contributions to the Braves. And remember, this is relative to what he would expect to get under the current collective bargaining agreement, not some fanciful world in which he could otherwise just become a free agent right now.
$35 million is nice and anybody could be live a life of luxury with that type of money. However, if you told me that I left a whole entire $100 million on the table, I’d still feel sick. It’s still plenty of money but at the same time, you only live once and you should try to get as much money as you possibly can. There’s no shame in trying to get paid what you’re worth and unfortunately for Ozzie, he’ll be getting paid substantially less than what he figures to actually be worth to the Braves over the course of this deal.
Still, this probably won’t elicit any sort of regret from Ozzie. He’s a very rich man now and he’s in a situation where he’s very happy. That’s the most important thing. It’s also important to note that a lot of players around the league are taking notice of this and it’ll be one of many things that they’ll have in mind once it comes time for both the MLBPA and MLB to try to avoid what seems like a tumultuous battle to avoid a work stoppage.
As far as the Braves are concerned, they just ensured that they’re going to have some of that precious “financial flexibility” for a long time. Like I said when the Acuña deal was done, the onus is now on the franchise to actually exercise that “financial flexibility” and make sure that there’s a good team around their two franchise cornerstones while they’re here. They have no more excuses and the least they can do is make sure that there are no wasted years while they have these two around.