The Braves have locked up yet another young talent to a long-term contract. This time, shortstop Andrelton Simmons has agreed to terms on a seven-year deal worth $58 million. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed the deal.
Simmons, 24, is coming off a 2014 season in which he batted .248/.296/.396 (87 OPS+) with 17 homers in 157 games. Besides some pop, Simmons also boasts mega-elite defensive skills at the shortstop position. Last season, he won the Gold Glove and according to advanced defensive metrics turned in one of the most valuable fielding seasons of all-time. Even if the bat fails to progress, Simmons is well worth the investment from a defensive standpoint.
The deal means that the Braves buy out all of Simmons's arbitration years and two of his free agency years. At an average annual cost of less than $9 million, this has the makings of a very good investment for the Braves. For instance, according to WAR and FanGraphs's market estimates, Simmons's 2013 season would've been worth $23 million in free agent dollars. In other words, the Braves figure to extract a great deal of value from this contract and then get out of the commitment prior to Simmons's deep decline phase. From a team standpoint, that's ideal.