The Atlanta Braves avoided arbitration with two players on Tuesday, agreeing to deals with both Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Heyward agreed to a two-year, $13.3 million contract (via team press release), while Freeman's deal could be worth around $125 million over the next eight years, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Both homegrown talents, Freeman and Heyward are the present and future of the Braves.
In 2013, the 24-year-old Freeman had a monster year, hitting .319/.396/.501 with 23 home runs and 109 RBI (144 OPS+) in 147 games, earning him his first All Star honor. Over his four-years with the Braves, he has hit .285/.358/.466 with 68 home runs and 280 RBI (123 OPS+). Playing first base, Freeman is a great anchor in the Braves' lineup and will continue to be for some time.
Heyward did not perform as well in 2013 as Freeman. Only appearing in 104 games due to injuries, Heyward hit .254/.349/.427 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI (111 OPS+) in 2013. Over his career, Heyward has hit .259/.352/.443 with 73 home runs and 234 RBI. The outfielder was an All Star in his rookie campaign in 2010.
By locking up both Heyward and Freeman, the Braves can focus on getting ready for the 2014 season. Their only remaining arbitration-eligable player is closer Craig Kimbrel, who will likely go to the arbitration hearings. The Braves still look to defend their National League East title in 2014 and remain competitive in the National League. Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward should play a big part in their success in the upcoming season.