For the third time this offseason, the Braves have agreed to a long-term contract extension with a young, core player. This time around it's All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. The club has announced that it has agreed to a four-year deal with Kimbrel. The deal is worth $42 million and includes a club option for a fifth year worth $13 million, with a $1 million buyout, per Jon Heyman.
The breakdown is as follows:
•$1 million signing bonus
•$7 million in 2014
•$9 million in 2015
•$11 million in 2016
•$13 million in 2017
Awards bonuses could push the deal over $58 million, total, if the club option is picked up for 2018.
Kimbrel was already under team control, so the new deal gives the Braves cost certainty -- instead of arbitration -- for the next three seasons while buying out at least one free agenty year and possibly a second.
Kimbrel, 25, is widely and rightfully regarded as the best closer in baseball. He'd led the NL in saves the past three seasons and had an MLB-best 50 last year in 54 opportunities. He also had a 1.21 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 67 innings.