The Atlanta Braves reportedly tried to lock up top outfield prospect Ronald Acuna on a team-friendly deal.
ESPN Deportes’ Arturo Marcano says that the Braves attempted to sign Acuna to a contract extension worth $30 million. It’s not uncommon for MLB teams to attempt to lock up their young stars long-term during spring training, as Scott Kingery and Ketel Marte are among players to be extended by their respective teams so far.
It makes sense for Acuna to turn down such extension, as he could very well be a player making $30 million annually a year in the next 10 years. It also means Acuna is betting on himself, as turning down $30 million before you even play a Major League Game is quite a risky decision no matter who you are.
The same report from ESPN Deportes stats that the extension would be either five years or six years, which means the extension was either going to have an average annual salary of $6 million, or $5 million. Acuna’s family has reportedly also expressed interest in a long-term extension that provides financially security in it, which likely could mean limited team options included in a proposed deal.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked Acuna about turning down the contract extension offer from the Braves, and here was the young phenom’s reply, through a translator:
“To be honest I’m not sure where that came from,” Acuna said through a translator, “because as of now we haven’t received a contract, no one’s talked to me about it and there was no contract that was turned down or anything like that. So I’m not sure where that started from but that hasn’t been the case.”
Acuna is slated to begin the 2018 season at Triple-A Gwinnett for the Braves, with the goal likely being for Atlanta to gain another year of team control on Acuna’s contract. Acuna will have to stay in the minors until April 13 if the Braves hope to prevent him from becoming a free agent until the 2024 season.
Atlanta went 13-18 this spring, with Acuna being the team’s best player over the 31 total games by far and away. The 20-year-old Acuna slashed .432/.519/.727 with 4 home runs, 11 runs batted in, and 4 stolen bases in 16 tune-up games, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters that the organization believes Acuna needs more development time in the minors. We will see how true that statement was in a couple of weeks.
Last season, Acuna started the season all the way at Advanced-A Florida. It took him 28 games to get promoted to Double-A Mississippi, and he did even better at Double-A than he did at Advanced-A by slashing .326/.374/.520 with 9 home runs, 30 runs batted in, and 19 stolen bases. Atlanta then moved Acuna to Triple-A after his 58 games of domination in Mississippi.
Once again, Acuna performed even better at the next level. Across 54 games at Triple-A to finish the season, Acuna batted .344/.393/.548, and had 9 home runs, 33 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases. So collectively in 2017, Acuna batted .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs, 82 runs batted in, and 44 stole bases at the minor league level, which begs the question just how much more time in the minors Acuna truly needs.
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