The Atlanta Braves and star outfielder Jason Heyward have agreed on a two-year deal, allowing the two sides to avoid an arbitration hearing this year, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Heyward will receive a total of $13.3 million.
The multi-year deal also buys out Heyward's final year of arbitration, meaning he will have a set contract with the Braves until he is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.
It makes sense that the two sides were able to come to an agreement on some sort of deal to avoid a hearing this year. Heyward had filed for $5.5 million while the team offered $5.2 million, creating a relatively paltry difference of $300,000.
Typically, such a meager difference makes it easy to compromise without going through the potentially-messy process of an arbitration case. Braves General Manager Frank Wren has previously espoused the organization's philosophy of not negotiating with players after the filing date, however. Heyward's new contract may indicate some wiggle room in Atlanta's "file and trial" attitude, allowing the Braves to eschew that ethos when it comes to multi-year deals.
Heyward has been a mainstay in the Braves' outfield the last four years after being named the top prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season. Over his career, he has hit .259/.352/.443 while averaging more than 18 home runs per year. Still just 24 years old, Heyward has plenty of room to grow, as well.
After slugging 27 long balls in 2012, Heyward was hindered by two injuries in 2013 that cost him a month apiece: An appendectomy in April and a broken jaw from being hit by a pitch in August.