ATLANTA — Within a matter of minutes, the Spencer Strider narrative changed from: How effective might he be in the National League Division Series to how effective might he be through at least the 2028 season?
• NLDS Game 1: Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Braves fans awoke on Monday looking forward to learning more about Strider’s health and potential availability during the NLDS. By 9:30 a.m. ET, many of these same folks were discussing an extension that could keep the rookie sensation in Atlanta until at least the 2028 season.
Strider agreed to a six-year, $75 million deal that includes a $22 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2029. Without the extension, Strider would have been eligible for free agency after the '27 season. The 23-year-old right-hander has pitched just two seasons above the collegiate level, but his incredible rookie season gave Atlanta confidence to make this commitment.
"My goal is always to outperform any expectations," Strider said. "There's nobody that has higher aspirations or expectations for performance than myself. And so in that way, I don't feel any pressure. The expectation is that I outperform any contract I ever sign."
While Strider was certainly pleased with the contract, the satisfaction he felt Monday extended to the fact that it appears he will be available to pitch in some role during the NLDS, which begins on Tuesday against the Phillies. His previously strained left oblique muscle was fine as he threw off the mound on Sunday and on flat ground on Monday.
“I feel great,” Strider said. “But those decisions and everything will be up to the team, of course, and how we want to plan for the series and stuff. I feel good, and hopefully, it keeps trending in that direction.”
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Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t ready to say whether Strider might be used as an opener, a reliever or possibly fill both roles during the best-of-five series against the Phillies. Sunday marked the first time Strider had thrown off a mound since his Sept. 18 start against Philadelphia.
“Everything is an option, quite honestly,” Snitker said. “We anticipate him being really good because he was yesterday in the ‘pen. And we're still kind of mulling over what's the right thing for us and him and how to use him.”
Strider burst on the scene this year as he posted a 2.67 ERA with 202 strikeouts over 31 appearances (20 starts), becoming the first Braves rookie in the Modern Era to have a 200-strikeout season. He also became the first MLB pitcher to record 200 strikeouts and allow fewer than 100 hits.
The Braves are taking a risk on a pitcher who has 228 innings as a professional. But they have shown the willingness to lock up their young stars. Austin Riley was signed to a 10-year, $212 million contract, and Michael Harris II was given an eight-year, $72 million deal. These deals were made after Matt Olson received his eight-year, $168 million deal one day after being acquired from the A’s in March.
"I'm just excited that there's some security in knowing I'll be here with these guys in this clubhouse," Strider said. "And go out and keep doing what we've been doing."
Strider will make $1 million each of the next two seasons and $4 million in 2025. His salary will jump to $20 million in '26 and then rise to $22 million for both of the next two seasons. If his option is exercised, the deal will be worth $92 million over seven years.
Harris, Strider, Riley, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Olson are all signed through at least the 2028 season. Ozzie Albies is controllable through the '27 season. Time will tell whether Max Fried and Dansby Swanson also factor into the team’s long-term plans.
“They’re a tight group and they’re great young men,” Snitker said. “I think it’s even more encouraging within you're organization to know your going to have that nucleus every year.”
Spencer Strider signs six-year deal – MLB.com