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A year ago Atlanta Braves wunderkind Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first 40/70 player in baseball history -- he finished the season with 41 home runs and 73 stolen bases -- en route to being named NL MVP. He hit .337/.416/.596 overall and led baseball in hits (217), runs (149), and total bases (383). It was the greatest power/speed season in baseball history, truly.

Acuña turned only 26 in December and, thanks to the eight-year extension worth $100 million he signed in April 2019, he is the biggest bargain in the sport. Atlanta owes Acuña only $17 million a year from 2024-26, with $17 million club options for 2027 and 2028. Assuming those get picked up, the Braves will pay him only $85 million for his age 26-30 seasons. Like I said, a bargain.

On Friday, Acuña made it known he wants to spend the rest of his career with the Braves, and also not-so-subtly hinted at wanting a contract extension. "It's not a secret that I want to be a Brave for life. It's my hope that we can make that happen soon," Acuña told The Athletic. That's pretty clearly Acuña letting it be known he wants a new contract. Not much mystery there.

Ronald Acuña
ATL • RF • #13
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Had he not signed his extension, Acuña would have been entering his walk year right now. He would not have to go 40/70 again to have commanded a $400 million contract next offseason. Given his age, his pedigree, and his performance to date, Acuña would have had a chance at $500 million next offseason. Players this good and this young rarely become available.

The Braves have no reason to rush into an extension because they do have Acuña for another five years. They've also shown they will let players -- great and popular player like Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson -- leave if the price isn't right. Basically, if you don't take the discount, there's no room for you in Atlanta. Acuña has little leverage and the Braves are aware of it.

Hypothetically, tacking eight years and $300 million onto what remains of Acuña's current contract would take him through his age 38 season. Eight years and $300 million is $37.5 million a year, and it would be the second-highest average annual value for a position player in history, trailing only Aaron Judge's $40 million a year. It would be the fifth-highest average annual value period.

Eight years and $300 million on top of Acuña's current contract would be 13 years and $385 million total, covering his age 26-38 seasons. For comparison, Bryce Harper will make $330 million during his age 26-38 seasons. Manny Machado will make $335 million during that chunk of his career. For Mike Trout, it's $459.75 million. As good as Acuña is, he's not early career Trout.


Acuña thru age 25







MVP, ROY, 4x All-Star

Trout thru age 25







2x MVP, ROY, 6x All-Star

An extension that puts Acuña's age 26-38 payday somewhere between Harper/Machado and Trout seems reasonable, and our hypothetical eight-year, $300 million deal accomplishes that. Whether Acuña and his representatives are willing to do that is another matter. Just looking at comparable players, $300 million on top of what Acuña is currently owed is a good starting point.

It would make sense for Acuña to wait a year to get serious about an extension. He would risk injury and/or poor performance, but he would be a year closer to free agency, and he would also get to see what Juan Soto gets as a free agent next offseason. If Soto gets $400 million, it would raise the market for the best in the league kind of players, a category to which Acuña belongs.

For now, the Braves have Acuña locked up to an incredibly team-friendly contract, and Acuña is doing well for himself too. Just not as well as he would have had he gone through arbitration and become a free agent after 2024. It's easy to understand why he'd want an extension after the year he just had. It's also easy to understand why the Braves don't have to rush into anything.