Atlanta Braves and Craig Kimbrel close on four-year contract

Atlanta BravesAtlanta Braves’ strongest closer, Craig Kimbrel, settled with the Braves on a $42 million, four-year contract on Sunday.  Kimbrel and the Braves were prepared for arbitration with the organization’s offer set at $6.55 million and Kimbrel’s asking salary of $9 million for a one-year deal.  The arbitration date was set for Monday, but was avoided by a matter of hours when the agreement was reached on Sunday afternoon.

Kimbrel’s $42 million contract is dispersed over four years with the option of a fifth year.  He will receive a sign on bonus of $1 million, plus $7 million in salaries this season.  He is set to receive $9 million in 2015, $11 million in 2016, and $13 million in 2017.  In 2018, there is the option for Kimbrel to stay with the Braves and receive a $13 million salary, or he has the possibility of buying out for $1 million.

The Braves are, of course, excited to have Kimbrel for another four, possibly five, years.  Kimbrel was named the best closer in Major League Baseball for 2013.  In addition, many argue that Kimbrel is not just the best closer in baseball, but the best pitcher all-around.  Kimbrel has accumulated 138 saves over the past three seasons.  Last year, he finished with a 1.21 ERA, 50 saves, and 98 strikeouts.  Kimbrel’s saves ratio of 139 out of 154 sums up exactly how great the young pitcher is.  Although Kimbrel has been an All Star player for the past three years, there is no reason to believe he has reached his peak.  With a healthy arm, Kimbrel will outlast his contract with the Braves and continue to succeed as the best closer in Major League Baseball.

The organization has had to deal with a number of last minute contracts this offseason.  Two days before the Braves made a deal with Kimbrel, they made an agreement with pitcher, Julio Teheran.  Teheran and the Braves agreed to a six-year, $32.4 million deal on Friday.  The organization also scored big when they avoided arbitration with key players Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward.  First baseman, Freddie Freeman, sits on the biggest contract in Braves’ history.  He agreed to an eight-year, $135 million deal.  Additionally, Jason Heyward, Atlanta’s right fielder, agreed to a two-year, $13.3 million contract.

The Braves seem to have a healthy, young team lined up for the 2014 season.  The Braves managed to maintain some of their strongest players: Kimbrel, Heyward, Freeman, Simmons, and Justin Upton, but other young players such as B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla may be enough to hold the Braves back from a division title.  In addition, losing catcher, Brian McCann, to the Yankees is going to exhibit a huge loss in the Braves’ lineup and to the team’s spirit.  While, last season the Braves dominated the National League East division, this season, will most likely prove to be more difficult on them.  Even though the Braves have kept the majority of their lineup, the Nationals are looking like a favorite for the NL East this upcoming season.