After a winter in which baseball’s free agent market appeared frozen, with the exception of mega-deals agreed to by star players like Bryce Harper, the opening weeks of the season have numerous young players opting to avoid free agency altogether by signing long-term contracts with their current teams.
The latest player to do so is Ozzie Albies, the 22-year-old second-year second baseman for the Atlanta Braves, who broke out in a big way last season with 30 home runs in his first full season in the majors. On Thursday, the Braves announced that they had agreed to a contract extension with Albies, and many people throughout baseball are shocked at just how little money Albies got.
Per MLB Trade Rumors, Albies has agreed to a seven-year deal for $35 million. In addition, Albies agreed to two club options at $7 million a piece, meaning that the most he can earn in those seven years is $45 million. Therefore, Albies is giving up four years of free agency, as well as a great deal of earning potential.
Albies joins outfielder Ronald Acuna, who is said to be his best friend, as young players agreeing to long-term deals with the Braves so far this season. Acuna, though, received much more money, signing for over $100 million.
The deal means that Albies will be under team control with the Braves until he’s 30-years-old, and if he were to become a superstar in those years, he won’t be able to leverage that into more money.
While many of the recent contracts have been considered team-friendly, there was shock throughout baseball at how little guaranteed money Albies agreed to accept.
“I’ve now heard from executives, players, analytics people, development side and scouts who are saying the same thing,” ESPN reporter Jeff Passan tweeted Thursday. “The Ozzie Albies extension might be the worst contract ever for a player.”
The Atlanta Braves today agreed to terms with INF Ozzie Albies on a seven-year contract extension through 2025 worth $35 million, with club options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons. #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/lzIYsn7PaM— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 11, 2019
“Frankly, this seems like the type of deal that an agent would strongly advise his client not to take,” MLB Trade Rumors said. However, that site and others noted that Albies did not receive a large bonus when he signed as an amateur, and likely jumped at his first opportunity for a significant payday.
Baseball America editor JJ Cooper said that a past Braves second baseman, Dan Uggla, who became a regular at age 26, made $75 million in his 10-year career, which is much more than Albies, who may very well be a better player, has agreed to earn.
While there has been some criticism of Albies’ agent in regards to the contract, other commentators have noted that the agents were likely listening to the wishes of their client.