Hot Stove: Atlanta Braves Week-In-Review, December 25

Newly extended Ender Inciarte. (Photo: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images North America)

Merry Christmas from everyone here at Outfield Fly Rule! Braves fans got an early present (or was it a Festivus Miracle?), prospect Ronald Acuña did Acuña things at the Australian Baseball League All-Star Game, and Braves fans are treated to a new prospect list! Grab some figgy pudding and bring your electronic Internet browsing device in front of the yule log, it’s time for a short but happy week-in-review.

Braves and Ender Inciarte Agree on Contract Extension

While most Americans were gathering around the Festivus pole and preparing for Feats of Strength, the Braves and centerfielder Ender Inciarte were putting the final touches on a five year, $30.525 million contract extension. The deal will buy out Inciarte’s four arbitration years and his first year of free agency. The Braves also hold an option for a sixth year at $9 million.

In an official statement, Braves GM John Coppolella said:

We are thrilled to announce an extension for Ender. We feel that he’s the best defensive center fielder in baseball and one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. Ender brings so much to our club, on and off the field, and we are happy to have him under club control for at least the next six years.

With this move, Atlanta firmly places Inciarte into the core of the team as they anticipate completing the roster rebuild it started after the 2014 season with the trade of outfielder Jason Heyward and right-hander Jordan Walden to the Cardinals. That trade netted right-handers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, both of whom have now been subsequently traded for shortstop Dansby Swanson, right-handers Aaron Blair and Luke Jackson, and Inciarte.  The Braves also re-acquired Walden on a minor league contract after two injury-plagued years in St. Louis.

Nicholas Stellini of Fangraphs broke down the extension as far as value for the dollar (spoiler: it’s probably really, really good for the Braves). From my perspective, this extension gives the Braves tremendous flexibility in the years to come.

  1. Inciarte is coming off his best season, and at only age 25 is still entering his projected prime years. He provides superior defense up the middle, a key building block to a successful ballclub.
  2. However if the re-build doesn’t pan out as the Braves and their fans hope, Inciarte’s contract provides enough value that he could be flipped to another club for a good package of prospects.
  3. Finally, if Inciarte doesn’t perform as well as expected, the $6 million average annual value isn’t so material as to significantly hamstring the Braves future budgets.

As if Braves fans need any more excuses to watch 2016 Ender Inciarte highlights.

Acuña an Aussie All-Star

Braves outfield prospect Ronald Acuña continued to impress in the Australian Baseball League, this time with the “World” team of ABL All-Stars. Acuña went 1-for-3 with a leadoff double, a walk, and a stolen base.

For the season, Acuña is hitting .375/.446/.556 with 2 homer, 5 doubles, a triple, 13 stolen bases (against 3 caught), and 10 walks to 13 strikeouts.

Talking Chop Releases Top 25 Prospects List

‘Tis the season of prospect lists, and SB Nation’s Talking Chop released their Braves list last week along with some top-notch commentary. While we have been treated to prospect lists from the likes of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and SB Nation’s John Sickels it is always good to get another prospective from smart folks that follow the team closely. Also be sure to take a look at the always entertaining Talking Chop Community Prospects List.

So with another nation heard from, here’s how the top 10 Braves prospects stack up.

Braves Prospect Ranking Comparison

PlayerOutfield Fly Rule RankGondeee/Chop County's RankBenjamin Chase's RankGrant McAuley's RankTalking Chop RankJohn Sickels RankBaseball Prospectus RankBaseball America Rank
Dansby Swanson, SS1111N/A111
Ozzie Albies, IF22221232
Kolby Allard, LHP35433363
Mike Soroka, RHP47987454
Sean Newcomb, LHP54345548
Kevin Maitan, SS63656887
Touki Toussaint, RHP71211109109N/A
Max Fried, LHP81377461010
Ian Anderson, RHP96868775
Ronald Acuña, OF10145122926
Austin Riley, 3B1191591011N/AN/A
Luiz Gohara, LHP121510N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Dustin Peterson, OF138131415N/AN/AN/A
Patrick Weigel, RHP151112201315119
Alex Jackson, OF/C1610231614N/AN/AN/A

SHAMELESS PLUG: The Get to Know a Prospect series will continue here on Outfield Fly Rule, looking at ranked prospects #21-30. Be sure to come back this week to check it out!

About Andy Harris 145 Articles
Andy Harris has been a baseball fan since seeing the Big Red Machine in 1978 and hardcore baseball fan since reading Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstract in 1990. Andy moved to the Atlanta area in 1991, which turned out to be a pretty good year for the local team.

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