News broke early on Friday morning that the Braves inked centerfielder Ender Inciarte to a 5 year, $30.5 million extension. 2016 was Inciarte’s third full season in the majors, and he’s proven that he’s one of the more valuable centerfielders in the league, with excellent range, and one of the best arms in the league.
Braves lock up talent in CF
The Braves acquired Inciarte in the trade that sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks and brought Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair to the Braves. Inciarte got hurt early on in 2016, and returned in late May. Still, with the starting centerfield job in Atlanta he played more games in 2016 than in any other year of his career. He proved to be more valuable than ever late in the year. He went on a 32-game hitting streak in July and August. He also raised his batting average up to .291 on the year showing signs of progress for the future.
This deal looks like a steal for Atlanta at this point, as the contract is backloaded, giving Inciarte $2 million in 2017, $4 million in 2018, $5 million in 2019, $7 million in 2020, and $9 million in 2021. If Inciarte had hit the open market after 2018 he likely would have made more than $30.5 million, but it’s not likely that he would have gotten the 5-year commitment that he got from the Braves.
Still, Atlanta locked their talented centerfielder up through his prime years. He’ll be 31 by the time his contract is up. With a farm system as talented as Atlanta’s is, they’ll likely have plenty of outfielders waiting in the wings.
Inciarte Robs Cespedes of Walk-Off HR (0:00-0:20)
The Braves outfield is currently locked up through the 2018 season, as that’s when right fielder Nick Markakis’ contract runs out. Matt Kemp is signed through 2019 and Inciarte is now signed through 2021. Still, it’s remained to be seen if Atlanta will stick with that outfield combination for two more seasons, as Kemp and Markakis are both well north of 30.
The Braves also have outfielders Mallex Smith, Dustin Peterson, and Ronald Acuna succeeding in their minor league ranks. Needless to say, the Braves have plenty of options going forward.
Do you think the Braves signed a good deal for Inciarte? Let us know in the comments!