Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Cost of extending Heyward
By Jason A. Churchill
Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward will earn $3.65 million in 2013, agreeing to a one-year deal and avoiding arbitration last month. That isn't news, nor is really all that interesting. What might be, especially for Braves fans, is what it may take to sign Heyward long term, something the club has not discussed with Heyward, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
Heyward has two more years of arbitration to go through before qualifying for free agency after 2015. To extend his contract, the Braves may have to start with the 6-year, $51 million deal the Reds have Jay Bruce two years back, and could stretch to the $80 million Carlos Gonzalez signed two months prior. Both Bruce and Gonzalez were in similar situations when they signed their contracts -- either a year into arbitration or on the brink. Oddly enough, the contract of Heyward's new teammate, Justin Upton, could also serve as a standard.
The Braves' brass may see value in waiting at least a few months to make sure Heyward stays healthy and is producing at a high level again after struggling to do either in 2011. Waiting too long, however, could cost them even more money, suggesting the club could approach the 23-year-old sooner than later.
It's difficult to imagine Heyward signing for less than Bruce, considering inflation, and despite being born in New Jersey, he grew up in Georgia, giving the Braves a great chance to keep him around for years. The first half of this coming season may be the key factor in dollars and the timing of negotiations.