All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel has sidestepped salary arbitration by agreeing to a $42 million, four-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.
”I’m very excited,” Kimbrel told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ”If I didn’t want to be here, this wouldn’t be going on. We’re playing to win. This is where I want to be.”
Kimbrel’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for Monday, which is when he planned to propose a $9 million salary against the Braves’ $6.55 million.
The deal will extend through 2017 with a fifth-year option in 2018 that could increase Kimbrel’s total package to $58.5 million. Braves general manager Frank Wren calls Kimbrel “the best closer in Major League Baseball” and looks forward to the team’s coming years with the young pitcher.
“I think we’re thrilled that Craig’s going to be here for at least the next four years, and we’re pretty confident that it’s going to be five years,” Wren said. “I think when you have the best closer in the game, you’re always hopeful that you can work something out.”
The 25-year-old reliever averages a career 1.39 ERA with 381 strikeouts over four seasons with the Braves. In 2013, Kimbrel led the National League in saves for the third consecutive year and became the youngest pitcher ever to save 50 games in a season.
“You just look at what he has contributed to the team his first three years in the big leagues,” Wren said. “It’s not only special, it’s historic.”
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