The Braves continued signing their young talent to contract extensions on Sunday as they reached a four-year deal with Craig Kimbrel for $42 million. There's an option year added on that could push the terms to five years and $58.5 million.
With such a big deal going down, how did the rest of the baseball world react? Here were the initial impressions from national reporters, bloggers and the $42 million man himself.
Awesome day. So happy to be apart of #BravesCountry for the next 4 years. Thank you for all the support braves fans!— Craig Kimbrel (@kimbrel46) February 16, 2014
Buster Olney of ESPN calls it a win-win for both sides.
Kimbrel $42 million deal, as reported by @jaysonst, seems like very fair for both sides. High Guaranteed $ for Kimbrel, best closer for ATL.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 16, 2014
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports likes the deal and thinks the Braves are having a terrific offseason.
Craig Kimbrel's four-year deal includes a 2018 option. With Freeman and Teheran extensions, been a costly -- and excellent -- offseason.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 16, 2014
Jim Bowden, a former general manager now working at ESPN, calls it not only a win for the Braves, but a win for the rest of the league. Some were worried Kimbrel's contract numbers would blow up the current market for elite relief pitchers.
As for the rest of the industry, this is a good precedent. If Kimbrel had gone to arbitration and shattered records, other young closers would have been tempted to go to hearings using Kimbrel as a comp, and a lot of what happens in arbitration is set on precedent. With this deal there is no new arbitration precedent.
Furthermore, this contract signals to the rest of the industry no closer will ever get more than a four-year deal. I mean, if a guy as good as Kimbrel can't get more than four years guaranteed, no one can.
Passan echoed Bowden's thoughts on the signing:
Rest of the league should send Braves champagne. Kimbrel could have blown RP market sky high. Though a record, deal keeps RP cost palatable.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 16, 2014
David Schoenfield praises the work of Frank Wren for locking down his young core of talent for the foreseeable future:
Braves fans should be happy: This core group is locked up for at least two years and most of it well beyond that (Simmons wouldn't reach free agency until after the 2018 season). Even if Heyward departs after 2015, the Braves have the talent to remain competitive well into the future.
Atlanta's farm system isn't too stocked at the moment, but with so many young players already making their impact felt in the big leagues, the Braves should be just fine for at least a few more years.
Kimbrel and Wren met with the media during Sunday's spring training workout and discussed his new deal:
#Braves Wren: 'We’re thrilled that Craig’s going to be here for at least the next 4 years, and we’re pretty confident it’s going to be 5."— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) February 16, 2014
#Braves Kimbrel gets 4 yrs plus a 1-yr option, said extensions team gave to Freeman, Teheran helped convince him team serious about winning— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) February 16, 2014
#Braves Kimbrel: "If I didn’t want to be here, this wouldn’t be going on. We’re playing to win. This is where I want to be."— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) February 16, 2014
With Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Julio Teheran all signed to long-term deals, MLB.com's Mark Bowman opines it will be shortstop Andrelton Simmons who is next in line to get a raise.
Andrelton Simmons appears to be the most likely other candidate to become the latest Braves player to receive a multi-year deal before the season begins. His negotiations are complicated by the monetary value placed on the combination of his tremendous defensive skills and offensive potential. But it goes without saying that the Braves would like to have him manning the shortstop position for many years to come.