This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
There is a chance Austin Riley, Michael Harris II and Matt Olson will still be with the Braves when current first-graders are entering high school. Heck, Harris and Riley are positioned to possibly be around when those young kids become high school juniors.
Three years removed from high school himself, Harris became a part of Atlanta’s long-term core when he agreed to an eight-year, $72 million contract on Tuesday. This follows Olson securing an eight-year, $168 million deal and Riley signing a 10-year, $212 million deal earlier this year.
Most of the key pieces of this year’s Braves team are positioned to remain teammates throughout most of this decade.
“We’re trying to win every year, but the most important thing is having a sustainable long-term team,” Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. “It’s important that guys want to play here. If we can become one of the best places to play, that will help us keep players and sign players. Fans will certainly enjoy it.”
Anthopoulos and his staff have managed to construct a World Series-caliber roster while building one of the game’s brightest futures. Here are a few things to ponder about how the Braves could look over the next decade:
2027 season: Riley ($22 million), Harris ($9 million), Olson ($22 million), Ronald Acuña Jr. ($17 million club option) and Ozzie Albies ($7 million club option) could still all be teammates. These five stars would cost a combined $77 million that year.
Spencer Strider and William Contreras would see their third arbitration-eligible seasons in 2027. Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson are lined up to be arbitration-eligible through '26.
2028 season: Riley ($22 million), Olson ($22 million), Harris ($10 million) and Acuña ($17 million club option) could all still be controlled at a combined cost of $71 million.
By taking Owen Murphy, JR Ritchie and Cole Phillips on Day 1 of last month’s MLB Draft, the Braves have enhanced the opportunity to maintain a strong rotation throughout most of this decade.
2030 season: Riley ($22 million), Olson ($20 million club option) and Harris ($12 million) can all be controlled for a combined cost of $54 million.
Remember those first-graders discussed at the top of this newsletter? Well, they’ll be high school juniors when Riley ($22 million) and Harris ($15 million club option) remain controllable through 2032. And they’ll be seniors when Riley could have a $20 million option exercised in ’33.
“We have to make sure we build the team not with just one or two great players,” Anthopoulos said. “We need to put a winning product out on the field, and we feel that it is a balance to make it all fit and still have a deep team. I think the one thing you see in our sport is it’s not the NBA. You can’t go get a LeBron James and immediately become a contender.”
Braves provide template for locking up long-term core – MLB.com