Ronald Acuña Jr just put ball in Braves’ court for lifetime contract extension

Atlanta's best player made it known that he wants to end his career with the Braves.

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game One
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game One / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

It's no secret that Ronald Acuña Jr. is the biggest star in the Atlanta Braves organization. He is currently in the midst of an 8-year, $100 million contract extension that was signed back in 2019.

That means the Braves have their best player locked up through the 2028 season and at a bargain considering the talent Acuña possesses. He is making $17 million per season during the final 4 years of the contract.

However, when Ronald reported to Cool Today Park earlier today to begin his quest for a second MVP award, he announced that he would love to remain in a Braves uniform for the remainder of his career. During his first interview of the Spring, Acuña stated "It’s not a secret that I want to be a Brave for life. That's my hope. I hope I can stay here forever and hopefully we can make that happen soon."

His comments now put the ball in the court of Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves front office to make a decision to fulfill that request. AA has been criticized in recent years for "robbing" these young players from earning the money they deserve. However, offering guaranteed contracts to players with just one season under their belt is extremely risky and not something a lot of General Managers would be willing to do.

This is AA's chance to lock up a generational talent in an Atlanta Braves uniform and give no doubt who the face of the franchise is. In 2028, Acuña will be 30 years old, facing free agency and if he continues to play the way he has, he will have a chance at a massive contract.

The question fans will have is "Will they get an extension done?" Restructuring contracts isn't unheard of and it would benefit both sides. However, it's hard to believe it will happen as each time Atlanta has one of their players express interest in staying, they've left in free agency.

It doesn't instill confidence that Acuña will experience a different result. The Braves are currently in that same position with Max Fried who is in the final year of his contract. Fried expressed he'd like to stay in Atlanta but there has been no traction on that front.

Ronald decided he was going to push the issue sooner than later. This shows the team he is serious about remaining with the organization and puts pressure on them to at least begin the conversation.

During his 6-year career, Acuña currently has a line of .292/.381/.537 with 767 hits including 137 doubles, 161 home runs, 402 runs batted in, and 180 stolen bases. Those numbers prove just how talented Acuña is and he achieved those numbers despite missing most of the 2021 season due to injury. Had he been able to compete that season, we may be talking about a 2 or 3 time MVP pushing toward 300 career home runs.

All of the leverage lies with Acuña right now as he is coming off of a historic season in which he hit 40+ home runs and stole 70+ bases. He was asked during this interview if he could achieve a 50-50 or 60-60 season and answered "anything is possible".

He's done his part to prove he is worthy of a lifetime contract but now it's Atlanta's turn to do theirs. While other players have left due to not being able to agree to terms, the Braves would be foolish not to ensure Ronald Acuña Jr. stays in Atlanta for the rest of his life.

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