Acuna’s Loyalty vs. Braves’ Budget: The Contract Negotiation Struggle

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The Atlanta Braves are known for their fiscal responsibility, avoiding big contracts for star players. But will they break this trend for Ronald Acuna Jr., their dynamic outfielder?

In a recent statement, Acuna expressed his desire to remain a Brave for life, saying, “It’s not a secret that I want to be a Brave for life. Yeah, that’s my hope. I hope I can stay here forever, and hopefully, we can make that happen soon.” 

This declaration comes on the heels of Acuna’s stellar performance in the previous season, where he made history as the first player with at least 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases, ultimately securing the National League MVP title. He also topped the charts in on-base percentage, hits, and runs.

However, there is currently no pressing need for the Braves to extend Acuna’s contract. The four-time All-Star agreed to an eight-year, $100 million deal back in 2019, which also includes team options for 2027 and 2028.

The team’s projected 2024 payroll is $221.31 million, with the luxury tax set at $237 million. Exceeding this figure would incur a significant tax for the Braves. Despite the financial considerations, Acuna Jr. is likely seeking a raise. 

Acuna Jr.’s Projected Contract

acuna's-loyalty-vs-braves-budget-the-contract-negotiation-struggle
The Atlanta Braves are known for their fiscal responsibility, avoiding big contracts for star players. But will they break this trend for Ronald Acuna Jr., their dynamic outfielder?

Spotrac projects his market value at a massive 10-year contract at $38.4 million annually, ranking second among outfielders and fifth in the league, with a base salary of $17 million over the following three seasons.

The Braves have a history of letting go of former stars like Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson when their contracts concluded. However, it seems unwise for Atlanta to follow the same path with a player of Acuna Jr.’s caliber. 

Observers, including The Athletic’s David O’Brien, suggest that both parties are likely to agree on an extension before the option years come into play.

As Acuna Jr. sets his sights on repeating as the NL MVP, sportsbook odds from FanDuel currently place him as the frontrunner, with a promising +500 chance of clinching the coveted award once again. 

The unfolding chapters of Acuna’s future with the Braves promise to be both compelling and financially significant for both the player and the franchise.

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