What would an extension for Ronald Acuna Jr. from the Braves even look like?

No, Ronald Acuna Jr. isn't asking for a whole new deal, but that doesn't mean the Braves don't have to at least start thinking about his future.

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves have the most dynamic player in all of baseball on their roster in Ronald Acuna Jr. Reasonable people can disagree as to whether he is the best player in baseball with Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Aaron Judge, and Juan Soto all having arguments in their favor, but no player in the league can change the course of a game in as many ways as Acuna Jr. can at any given moment. If he continues to play at this pace, the debate over who was best in this era will start to look incredibly foolish in a few years' time.

What makes Acuna Jr.'s tenure with the Braves so remarkable, in addition to his awesomeness, has been how cheap he has been versus how much he has produced in his short career so far. Per the terms of the extension that Acuna Jr. signed before the 2020 season, the Braves owe him $17 million a year for the next three seasons AND hold club options for the 2027 and 2028 season at $17 million a piece as well. Assuming he stays healthy, there might not be a better contract in terms of value in all of baseball.

It is that value that had some thinking that when Ronald Acuna Jr. was talking about wanting to be with the Braves for life in the opening days of spring training, that he was talking about wanting to rip up his current deal and get a whole new contract. Those people are clearly too dense for their own good as Ronnie was clearly just saying he wants to stay in Atlanta forever which most sane Braves fans should want.

However, this whole discussion does raise an interesting point about Ronald Acuna Jr.'s future with the Braves. The timing doesn't make sense for anyone (except maybe the Braves if Ronnie is wanting to give them another sweetheart deal) for an extension to get done right now, but when could be the right time to get an extension done and how much will it be for?

Look for Acuna Jr.'s next deal to use Juan Soto's free agent deal as a framework

When you are talking about players of the caliber of Ronald Acuna Jr., we start getting into uncharted territory when it comes to contracts. We are talking about a guy that is on a Hall of Fame, best player of his generation trajectory. Even thinking about valuing a guy that might just be a 40/40 threat for the foreseeable future hasn't been done before which has to be pretty daunting on the Braves' side when it comes to trying to find a deal that Ronald would take while also balancing the team's future roster needs as well.

One thing is clear and that is that there probably won't be discussions about an extension this year and honestly probably not in 2025, either. There is no urgency to get a deal done soon as Acuna Jr. loves playing in Atlanta and he has shown no resentment whatsoever about his current deal. Once he gets to the last guaranteed year of his contract in 2026, the two sides should get together and talking about replacing his option years along with at least a few more additional years, but probably not before that.

As for how much Acuna Jr. could make with such an extension, the best comparison might be a deal that hasn't been done yet. Mike Trout's extension with the Angels isn't an uninteresting starting point, but that deal is a few years old now. Shohei Ohtani's megadeal with the Dodgers is a unicorn situation full of deferrals and marketing opportunities in Japan that don't apply to Ronald.

Instead, the best place for conversations to start might be with the deal that Juan Soto ends up signing next offseason. Soto famously turned down an over $400 million extension with the Nationals and may be looking to eclipse $500 million next offseason. That could end up being pie in the sky thinking, but he is in the same "best of the best" conversations that Ronald is right now. Once that deal gets done, the Braves will have to make a decision as to whether or not they can even remotely compete with that and Ronald will have to decide if his desire to stay a Brave for life means that he is willing to leave some money on the table.

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