LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves signed pitcher Julio Teheran to a six-year, $32.4 million contract that includes a seventh-year option, and general manager Frank Wren described Friday's move as the second step in their plan to build long-term around their top young players.
The big first step came last week when they signed All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman to a club-record eight-year, $135 million contract that bought out all three of Freeman's arbitration years and five of his potential free-agent seasons.
"He's got a chance to be a top part of the rotation guy for a long time," Braves general manager Frank Wren said of Teheran, a Colombian right-hander who was 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 30 starts last season in his first full year in the majors.
The contract includes a $12 million option and $1 million buyout.
"I feel happy, excited," Teheran said. "Now that I know my family is taken care of, I can go out and relax and try to have fun. But it's not going to change the kind of pitcher I am."
Teheran only turned 23 in January and was two seasons away from arbitration eligibility. The contract runs through 2019, which could have been his first year of free-agent eligibility.
If the Braves pick up the 2020 option, which seems likely barring injury, they will have bought out the first two seasons of free agency for the Colombian right-hander. The $32.4 million guaranteed amount was not far below Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner's $35 million contract, the record amount for a pitcher with less than two full years of major league service.
"It gets us through his first couple of free-agent years," Wren said. "Again, (the goal is to) hold onto our young players, and again a lot of this is the product of having the opportunity to move into Cobb County and into a new ballpark and hopefully an area that allows us to stay competitive for the long term."
The Braves expect to have significantly increased revenue streams when they move into their planned new ballpark in 2017.
Wren said the Teheran contract was done a week ago but that they had to wait for Teheran to get to the United States and pass his physical. He also said the Braves had "identified" other young players as core guys they hope to sign to long-term contracts. Wren wouldn't name the others, but suffice to say that shortstop Andrelton Simmons is likely at the top of the list.