This is some really great news. I’m pumped.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves made a huge commitment to one another on Tuesday, in the form of the eight-year, $100 million contract the club announced on Tuesday.
This is the largest extension ever signed by a player with as little Major League service time as Acuna has — 165 days — at the time of the extension. It is also the second-largest contract ever given by the Braves, trumped only by Freddie Freeman’s current eight-year, $135 million contract.
The guaranteed portion of Acuna’s deal begins this year and will run through his 28-year-old season in 2026. This new deal also includes a $17 million option and $10 million buyout for both the 2027 and 2028 seasons. The Braves could ultimately employ the 21-year-old phenom through his 30-year-old season at a cost of $124 million, or $12.4 million annually on average.
“I’m really so happy to be here in Atlanta for a long time.” Acuna said. “I love my teammates, my fans, the people. I want to say thank you to the Braves organization for trusting me with this contract. I’m so happy, you know?”
Acuna would not have been eligible for arbitration until he would have likely qualified for Super Two status prior to the 2021 season. So, the Braves are buying out those four potential arbitration years and the two seasons beyond when Acuna could have hit the free-agent market.
“This came together fast and we were not expecting to have this press conference today,” Braves GM Alex Anthopoulous said. “We’re thrilled and elated that we were able to get this contract done.
“From my own experience, this is the best young player I’ve seen and I’ve been around. Not that I’ve been around that long, but we’ve all seen the talent. Beyond that, who Ronald is as a human being — respectful, humble and, more importantly, he wanted to be here. That really speaks for itself.”
While this certainly has the potential to be a very team-friendly deal, the Braves are making this commitment with Acuna having played just 115 games at the Major League level. The reigning National League Rookie of the Year missed a month with a knee injury last year and really didn’t get going until he homered 19 times and produced a 1.028 OPS after the All-Star break, helping lead the Braves to the NL East title.
“What he did last year was just the tip of the iceberg,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said after Acuna hit his first homer of the season in Monday night’s win over the Cubs.
Acuna originally signed with the Braves for $100,000 as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2014. He eventually became one of the top prospects in baseball and was called up to make his MLB debut on April 25, 2018, at just 20 years old.
“I don’t think much is going to change, to be honest, after signing the contract, “Acuna said. “I do come from a humble place, La Guaira in Venezuela. I don’t think this is really gonna change me at all. I think everything’s more or less gonna stay the same. I’m proud to be from there, and I’m proud to continue to keep putting work in.
“I’ve definitely noticed the rapid paced that everything has happened here in the big leagues. But that just comes through consistency, hard work and discipline.”
Source: Acuna signs 8-year extension with Braves