The Atlanta Braves have solved the MLB

Atlanta has a young core that will be successful for many years 


Gracie Rogers

Dansby Swanson celebrating for Atlanta Braves

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

The hardest thing about creating a dynasty in any sport is maintaining talent for long periods. Great players want to get paid accordingly and if a team cannot afford their talents, they are more than likely to walk in free agency.

The Atlanta Braves have seemingly solved this issue better than any team could have imagined. 

Last offseason, they lost their franchise cornerstone of the previous decade in Freddie Freeman. But the front offense did not fret, as they traded for one of the best defensive first-basemen in MLB history Matt Olsen and signed him to an eight-year, $168 million contract. 

General manager Alex Anthopoulos was nowhere near being done, as, during the trade deadline, he signed silver-slugging third-baseman Austin Riley to a 10-year, $212 million contract. Later, in August, rookie of the year candidate Michael Harris II was signed to an eight-year, $72 million contract.

Harris was not even the only rookie to be signed to an extension, as breakout pitcher and mustache wearer Spencer Strider inked a six-year, $75 million contract during the season.

While these contracts are vital to locking in a long-term and young core for Atlanta, contracts from previous years are much bigger fleece jobs by the front office. 

Anthopoulos got two of the brightest young stars in the entire league to sign team-friendly contracts that allowed the Braves to sign these other massive extensions to key players. Gold glove and silver slugger second-basemen Ozzie Albies signed a minuscule seven-year, $35 million contract. 

However, potentially one of the most significant contract discrepancies between projected output and the money made, perennial MVP-candidate and one of the most prominent faces in all of baseball Ronald Acuña Jr is signed to a 10-year, $100 million contract. 

While players of similar talent are breaking average annual value records and making upwards of $400 million throughout their contracts, Acuña Jr is by far the most underpaid player in the league. 

Getting the players to subscribe to the team philosophy of a sustainable young core has already paid dividends, as the team won the world series in 2021 with several core members that will remain on the team for the next five to 10 years. 

There has been no world-series hangover for the team, winning 100+ games, winning the division on a remarkable late-season comeback and making it to the playoffs. While they had a disappointing end to the 2022 season, losing in four games to the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies, the future remains bright for a potential dynasty. 

While most agents are preaching the importance of testing your value in free agency, Anthopoulos and the Braves had somehow found a way to convince players to stay with the team not only long-term but on team-friendly contracts.

Just as with Freeman this upcoming season, the Braves have a big decision to make regarding a free agent. Shortstop Dansby Swanson, a former number-one overall pick and the current longest-tenured Brave, is looking for a big contract. If they can lock him up long-term, they will have the best core in the league as long as they so choose, barring injuries. 

As it stands currently, the Braves have the following players locked up for the foreseeable future: Max Fried until 2024, Kyle Wright until 2026, William Contreras until 2027, Ozzie Albies until 2027, Vaughn Grissom until 2028, Ronald Acuña Jr until 2028, Spencer Strider until 2029, Matt Olsen until 2030, Michael Harris II until 2032 and Austin Riley until 2032. 

Even if they cannot re-sign Swanson, the Braves could field three elite starting pitchers, a catcher, a full infield and two of three outfielders for the next several years. They will be in a prime position to not only compete in their division, but to compete for a World Series. 

In a way that has not been done before, the front office of the Atlanta Braves has seemingly cracked the code on sustained success and longevity, but it all depends on how the team performs going forward on how they will be remembered.