MLB: NLDS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Atlanta Braves are no longer a big market club. They don’t operate as they once did, bringing in expensive talents like Gary Sheffield and paying top dollar for talent. Their TV deal lags desperately behind most in terms of revenue, meaning they need to behave more nimbly than the big spending Phillies.

Which is why you sign a player with less than two years of service time to a six-year contract extension. Julio Tehran, like Madison Bumgarner before him, signs a long term deal before he completes his second full season in the big leagues.

While they don’t have the money of their division rivals, the Braves certainly have an eye for talent. They stuck with Tehran even after his prospect stock tumbled in 2012 and he rewarded Atlanta with a great rookie campaign.

The fastball/slider pitcher showed some vulnerability against left-handed batters, something he will need to work on as he establishes himself as a solid #2/3 starter. The increased use of his two-seam fastball and change up was a step in the right direction on this front, creating opportunities for Teheran to drop his slider onto the back foot of tough left-handed batters.

Pitch usage versus left-handed batters, 2013
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Then again, nothing beats a well-placed fastball. Fastball command makes all the difference, as Teheran did a much better job of getting ahead with his fastball, which normally sits around 92 mph but can get up over 95 when need be.

Even if his ability to retire lefties doesn’t improve markedly, Teheran needs to simply slot in at the back of the rotation to earn his modest* $34 million over the next six seasons.

A $12 million option for a free agent year with a $1MM buyout is a small price to pay for the years of control for a valuable asset. A player with both an attainable ceiling and reasonable floor is something both player and team can be happy about.