Another Notable Extension: Braves Ink Ender Inciarte to Five-Year Deal, Plus Option

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Another Notable Extension: Braves Ink Ender Inciarte to Five-Year Deal, Plus Option

Chicago Cubs

As was the case with the Phillies’ recent extension with outfielder Odubel Herrera, we as Cubs fans are fairly interested in seeing how extensions for young, controlled players (especially position players) are shaking out around baseball. The Cubs have a huge number of pre-arbitration youngsters who could be extension candidates, and those deals are often built upon precedent.

Now there’s another precedent to study, and it’s another young outfielder: the Braves have reportedly agreed to a five-year extension with defensive wonder Ender Inciarte:

Inciarte, 26, was included in the disastrous (for the Diamondbacks) Shelby Miller trade, and continued his breakout with the Braves. Although he offers a league-average-ish bat, he runs the bases well and plays stellar outfield defense.* Through about two and a half big league seasons, Inciarte has been worth 9.5 WAR.

Inciarte does not yet have three years of big league service time, but he qualified for arbitration this year as a Super Two. That means this deal buys out four arbitration years, one free agent year, and gives the Braves control over another free agent year via the team option. Considering all of that, the deal looks like a fantastic one for the Braves, though they do take on the risk that Inciarte’s bat drops off a little, thus making him more of a defensively-inclined fourth outfielder. But, hey, even if that happens, how much did they really risk? And, for Inciarte, he locks in generationally life-changing money no matter what happens in the next few years.

Herrera, who has a half-year less experience than Inciarte and was not going to start arbitration until after 2017, got a $30.5 million guarantee on his five-year extension, so, yeah, I’d say that was pretty obviously used as a comparison for this contract (“All right, Ender, we’ll BEAT that Herrera extension … by $250,000.”). Herrera’s deal came with two club options at the end, but at higher prices than Inciarte’s club option ($11.5 million and $12.5 million). Herrera has been a bit better with the bat, and not quite as good with the glove, but it’s not at all difficult to see why these two guys fell in the same bucket.

We’ll see if the Cubs get into serious extension talks with guys like Addison Russell, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, or Willson Contreras, and whether these deals appear to come up as comparisons. There are other extensions to consider, obviously – Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks, for example – but these Inciarte/Herrera deals are not going to be useful comparisons for what I hope are obvious reasons.

*(If you’re looking for a hoped-for Albert Almora Jr. player comp, by the way, Inciarte’s not a bad target, if you drop the stolen bases a bit and up the defense a bit. High contact bat, not a lot of walks, limited power (though Almora has upside there that Inciarte probably does not), and elite defense. That would be a very good outcome.)

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.