Another key member of the Atlanta Braves’ lineup has signed a long-term deal. The organization announced Tuesday night that outfielder Michael Harris II has signed an eight-year, $72 million contract extension. A two-year club option is also included in the agreement.
The extension begins the following season and covers the two pre-arbitration years, four years of arbitration as a Super Two, and two years as a free agent with two more years of club options. The deal has a maximum value of $102 million over ten years.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 17, 2022
Atlanta has been aggressive in securing long-term, team-friendly contracts with significant financial guarantees for their primary position players. Along with second baseman Ozzie Albies, first baseman Matt Olson, third baseman Austin Riley, and outfielder Ronald Acua Jr., Harris is the fifth Braves player to have a contract that runs through at least 2025.
The rookie is expected to finish in the top two of the National League Rookie of the Year voting, possibly alongside teammate Spencer Strider, would have become a free agent either after the 2027 season (with a top-two Rookie of the Year finish) or after the 2028 season. However, he has decided against going to the open market in his mid-20s and has instead agreed to a long-term contract with his hometown team.
The 21-year-old was selected with the 98th overall choice in the 2019 MLB draft. He improved his prospect status by advancing quickly through the minor leagues, skipping Triple-A totally earlier this year. Harris hasn’t skipped a beat in the Majors despite being promoted straight from Double-A.
He has made 268 plate appearances in the Majors, including the one he just finished tonight, and he did well. Batting average of 287/.325/.500 with 12 home runs, 14 doubles, 2 triples, and 13 steals (in 13 tries). When you consider that output along with plus center field defense (5 Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average alike), it is simple to understand why the Braves have grown to love the exciting young outfielder so fast.
There is danger involved with any extension for a young athlete, undoubtedly. Harris just has 71 major league games under his belt and has no Triple-A experience to speak of. In actuality, he had only played 43 games in Double-A before being promoted.
Despite his strong performance in the major leagues thus far, the Braves would undoubtedly prefer to see him raise his pitiful 3.7% walk rate. Although players with Harris’ type of speed (94th percentile sprint speed, per Statcast) can frequently sustain BABIP figures better than the league average, his current average on balls in play (.345) will probably dip a little.