Baseball fans: Your 2023-24 winter just got more boring.
Ronald Acuna Jr. is the latest young star to get locked up by his team, the 21-year-old and Braves agreeing on an eight-year, $100 million deal that begins this season, The Post’s Joel Sherman confirmed. The pact will include two option years and makes a player from Venezuela, who makes $560,000 this season, very, very rich.
One of the game’s youngest and brightest standouts, Acuna burst onto the scene last year, bypassing much of minor league ball and slashing .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs and 16 steals in 111 games. Atlanta is buying out five years of his original deal, including three arbitration years, to have him under relatively team friendly control until possibly 2028; he would make $17 million each in ’27 and ’28 if the options are picked up. For Acuna, he almost certainly would be able to make more if he tested free agency, but he’s taking the sure thing — and $100 million.
It follows the trend of teams fearful of overpaying in free agency and players fearful of injury and bitter free agencies compromising and taking slight risks on each other early. The Yankees have done similarly with Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks and the Mets with Jacob deGrom. Off the market have gone Justin Verlander, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Nola and Chris Sale, among others.
It’s baseball’s new reality, and the exciting offseasons, with big names trading teams and wallets being emptied, are at risk.