In a two year window, the Atlanta Braves are going to fully embody the philosophy of the moment when it comes to Major League teams and what to do with young talent: lock them up early for lots of years and for a lot less money than it would cost in free agency.
So far this off-season it has been first baseman Freddie Freeman, starting pitcher Julio Teheran, and closer Craig Kimbrel. Up next? Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but that order of business might be something that waits until next year.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution said the following in response to a question about Simmons:
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) February 16, 2014
Joel Sherman of the New York Post passes along this tidbit:
Hear #Braves want to sign Simmons long term but sides differ on offensive value now/future. Hitting pays huge, defense doesn’t.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 16, 2014
I get that the Braves want Simmons to hit a little more (.248/.296/.396 in 2013), but they are bluffing if they claim that his offense will ultimately affect his extension. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop the league has seen in a long time (an astounding 41 defensive runs saved in 2013), and at age 24, there is plenty of time for him to grow into more production on offense.
The defense he brings up the middle is truly extraordinary and valuable to the Braves, and so his bat should not hold back extension talks when the time comes.