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Atlanta Braves and the future of contracts for the young

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 19: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with Rhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies before the game against the New York Mets at BB&T Ballpark on August 19, 2018 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

This off-season is just like last year – part of a new shift in team behavior that will result in the Players’ Association demanding changes that could impact the Braves’ new kids.

The Atlanta Braves still have some money to spend and are taking their time in trying to spend it.  The Boston Red Sox are loaded with cash, but are essentially refusing to spend it on players like Craig Kimbrel – even as they already notoriously out-waited J.D. Martinez on a low-ball deal last season.

Meanwhile, the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado stories continue to linger on, with reports of ‘low’ offers raising comparisons to other silly-money deals of the past.

Teams are demanding that 30-plus-aged players take less money an fewer years.  At the same time, the younger players are stuck in an arbitration system – many of them not reaching free agency until they are close to that dreaded third decade.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement that governs all of this nuttiness does not run out until the end of the 2021 season, and if history is any guide, neither side will do anything to smooth the transition to a new deal until, oh – – maybe a month before the December expiration date.

That’s too late.

That and the current market situation will spell disaster for the sport.  I wouldn’t plan on going to Florida or Arizona for a lot of Spring games in 2022.

Without some advanced planning (via contract extensions) the Atlanta Braves could end up in a mess that has the potential to adversely change how they handle this infusion of young talent that they have in house.

Changes are a’coming, and while there’s no way to know what those changes could look like, any loss of time with these players could be difficult to handle – particularly given the farm system holes that will be coming (thanks to last year’s penalties) once the current crops of talent graduate.

The upshot is that the Braves should make serious attempts to lock up Ronald Acuña Jr, Ozzie Albies, and perhaps others in order to protect their talent investments and insure that a core group sticks around for the long haul… before future labor issues get in the way.

But that’s merely a sidebar to where we’re really going with this message today.


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