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Spencer Strider's Contract Is A Risk For The Braves, But Alex Anthopolous Has Proven He's One Of The Best GM's In The Biz

Spencer Strider isn't quite a household name yet, but he will be in due time. This dude is fucking electrifying in every sense of the word. Prior to the advent of Trackman and Statcast data, one had to use their eyeballs to decipher how good a pitcher's true "shit" was. Strider easily passes that test.

Now we can quantify it, and Spencer Strider is absolutely filthy #confirmed:

But where did he come from? Dude lit the world on fire this year, but he seemingly came out of nowhere. He didn't litter all any publications' top prospect rankings. MLB Pipeline only dubbed him the 7th ranked Braves prospect in the 2021 season albeit it in a perpetually loaded farm. 

It was even considered a reach by the Braves to take him in the 4th round of the 2020 draft, as he was just coming off TJS and teams only had 5 rounds to make their selections due to the pandemic. 

And now, he's a rich, rich man:

I've explained this many times through many players who have inked similar deals with the White Sox. At a glance, this comes off as an extremely team friendly deal. On the open market, Strider would have signed for a gazillion dollars and a gazillion years. This ain't the open market though, as he's only guaranteed $75MM with the Braves? Wtf?

Pre-arb contracts are doled out year by year. Strider made $710,000 in 2022, and he would have received incremental raises in 2023 and 2024. NOTE this doesn't take into account money he'll earn from the newly established pre-arb bonus pool. That said, in years 2025 through 2027 he would have either gone to arbitration or he settled on salaries. A good reference for what he would have been around in those arb years will be what Dylan Cease and the White Sox agree to over the next 3 seasons. 

It won't be close to $75MM guaranteed though, and that's where the Braves are taking a lot of risk. They are banking on Strider continuing to be the dominant force he was this year and are paying a premium to guarantee themselves an extra year of that dominance in his prime. They could have him controlled for something like… $25-30MM total in arbitration salaries, but ATL will pay him much more to have him stick around 1 more year in his prime for what should, in theory, be at a (well) below market rate. That makes it an extremely player friendly deal, especially if he shits the bed or gets hurt and the Braves decline his club options. 

It's the Rick Hahn special. He did this with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, Tim Anderson, Aaron Bummer, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and attempted to do it with Dylan Cease, who gambled on himself and is looking for the BIG payday instead of the modest one, in comparison to other MLB contracts given out to stars. The first handful of those contracts worked out EXTREMELY well. The latter? Not so much. Bet they'd REALLY like to have that Yoan Moncada contract back, because he's a bum. 

The Braves and Alex Anthopolous continue to be a model franchise though, so I'd bank that this contract works out juuuuts fine for them, and even if it doesn't, that they'll be able to maneuver around it without skipping many beats, if any. Even after their farm was gutted for their bonus scandal from a few years back, they haven't missed a beat and nobody would be shocked if they won their 2nd straight World Series title. That's largely due to Anthopolous and the organization he's built from the ground up. It's truly amazing what he's done in his short time in ATL. 

As a mid-market club, they have a glutton of farm depth, stars on stars in the lineup and pitching staff, and have "hit" on most of their trades. Good on them. It's cool to watch as an outsider, even if I envy every ounce of their existence. I wish my team operated like them. They don't though. They are mired in mediocrity.