At the risk of being hyperbolic considering that the Braves franchise has existed for more than a century, the last calendar year has probably been as exhilarating as any calendar year in their history. Atlanta won the World Series last November. As an encore, their 2022 roster performed even better, racking up 101 regular season victories and featuring the emergence of rookies Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider as legitimate stars.
Harris inked a contract extension with the Braves in August. On the eve of the team’s first playoff game, Strider has followed suit:
The Braves have fearlessly made long-term commitments to position players with Alex Anthopoulos running their baseball operations department. Prior to Harris, he locked up Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson and Austin Riley. But Strider is the lone Braves pitcher to agree to something like this.
The $75 million guarantee is a new record for a pre-arbitration eligible hurler. If there is anybody who deserved such an early payday, it’s Strider, who led the majors this season in both fielder independent pitching (1.83 FIP) and expected earned run average (2.39 xERA) among pitchers with at least 100 innings. He had MLB’s highest single-game strikeout total of 2022 when he punched out 16 Rockies batters on September 1.
I think this transaction—combined with those other aforementioned commitments, plus the bloated contracts of Raisel Iglesias and Marcell Ozuna—nudges pending free agent Dansby Swanson closer to signing elsewhere, but never count out Anthopoulos. Strider’s extension has a heavily back-loaded structure, so it won’t have a meaningful impact on Atlanta’s payroll until 2026.
In 15 years of being owned by Liberty Media, the Braves have operated like a mid-market team. If that is going to change, with this efficiently run franchise loosening its purse strings and flirting with spending $200 million on an annual basis, the rest of the league should be terrified.
The Braves have won their season series against the Marlins eight straight times. They finished 32 games ahead of the Fish in the standings this year.
As a reminder, the MLB schedule is changing for next season and beyond. There will be a reduction in games between intradivision rivals, from 19 to 13. Although the Marlins won’t have to see as much of the Braves in head-to-head play moving forward, the path to securing Miami’s first-ever NL East title is murkier than ever.