Report: Atlanta Braves agree to extension deal with CF Michael Harris II

Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris II (23) reacts after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris II (23) reacts after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Braves continue to defy convention are seem poised to add yet another young position player to their list of long-term commitments.

Even as the Atlanta Braves were on the field and nearing a second-straight knockout punch against the New York Mets, their off-the-field game was also continuing to hammer home runs:

Full disclosure:  Robert Murray is a member of the FanSided network… but this isn’t some wild, off-handed rumor, either:  at least a half-dozen other baseball writers have picked up on this story since this news break provided by Murray.

In fact, if anything, all others have echoed and extended upon Murray’s initial report… including:


Why Do This Now?

Michael Harris is currently the youngest major league player:  2 months and 2 days younger than teammate Vaughn Grisson (who, in turn, is just 4 days older than Wander Franco of the Rays).

Harris is the consensus leading candidate for 2022’s National League Rookie of the Year award, hitting .292 with 12 homers, an .838 OPS (127 OPS+), and — oh, by the way — he’s also playing a spectacular center field.

Remember Cristian Pache and the Gold-Glove-level defense he was to provide?  Harris is evidently the reason that the Braves felt comfortable (enough) to trade Pache to Oakland.

In fact, Pache is being credited with 6 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in 530.2 outfield innings (after Monday’s games).  In 630 innings, Harris is keeping pace with 5 DRS of his own.

The difference? Pache has been losing playing time since he’s hitting just .159 with an OPS of .427 (that’s not a misprint).

It’s difficult to find a center fielder with this kind of ability on both sides of the ball.  The Atlanta Braves really haven’t had such a luxury since the days of Andruw Jones… and Dale Murphy before that.

In 2012, Michael Bourn put up a 5.3 fWAR season.  Kenny Lofton had a 5.2 in 1997.  Ender Inciarte‘s best season produced 4.7 in 2016.  Marquis Grissom posted 4.6 in 1996.

But aside from Murph and Andruw… these were fleeting results that didn’t last for one reason or another.

With an fWAR of 2.7, Michael Harris II already has the 26th highest-ranked fWAR season for the Braves since 1980… and he’s only played 71 games this year.

So yes… if there’s a chance to get this kid under contract through his age 29 or 30 season… do it.

The details

Harris is already under team control for the next six seasons.  Thus an 8-year deal would buy out “only” 2 years of free agency… (UPDATE:  with the option of 2 additional years!)

However, Harris would almost certainly gain a 4th arbitration year, and if he were to continue putting up these kinds of numbers, he would be in line for a fairly major payday before then… with a chance to hit the open market at age 28.

Even if things come together as they being reported, he’d still be eligible for free agency after the 2030 season, turning 30 years old during the next Spring Training… and then he’d still have a shot at a second major extension deal


Contract Details

As reported by the Atlanta Braves:

  • 8 years, $72 million for the basic agreemtns
  • $15 million club option for 2031 ($5 million buyout)
  • $20 million club option for 2032 ($5 million buyout)
  • $5 million for the next 2 seasons (2023-24)
  • $8 million for the following 2 seasons (2025-26)
  • $9 million in 2027
  • $10 million for both 2028 and 2029
  • $12 million for 2030.
  • The entire contract is worth a maximum of $102 million over 10 years if all options are invoked.

For the Braves, the reasoning is quite simple… it’s summarized in Jeff Passan’s tweet above:  it’s an added chance to keep the core of this team together for several years more.

But it’s about more than that, too:

  • It’s about cost certainty, and the chance to develop yet another team-friendly deal
  • It’s about providing a lure to potential free agents by being able to tell them “we have a team that will be perennial playoff contenders.”

So let’s see if Alex Anthopoulos can get this ball pushed across the finish line.  If so…

What a team he’s putting together.

Next. 8 straight and 2 straight!. dark

Oh, and maybe offer Dansby a little bit more, now??