Braves' Albies justifies team-friendly contract: 'I'm not playing for money'
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When the Atlanta Braves announced that they had signed Ozzie Albies to a seven-year, $35-million contract - including team options that max the deal out at nine years and $45 million - it was roundly criticized as one of the most team-friendly deals in the history of the sport.

Coming off of his first All-Star campaign, the 22-year-old second baseman forfeits all three of his arbitration years, in addition to at least two years of free agency. If the two team options on the deal are picked up, Albies won't hit the open market until after his age-30 season, forgoing four years of free agency.

"I look at it as it's not just for money," Albies explained Thursday, according to the Associated Press. "Because I'm not playing for money. I'm playing for my career. And I took it because I want my family to be safe."

Earlier this season, the Braves locked up Ronald Acuna Jr. to an eight-year, $100-million deal. The young outfielder also forfeited two years of free agency, plus another two years if club options for 2027-28 are exercised. That contract can max out at 12 years and $124 million.

"We're more than best friends," Albies said of Acuna. "We're brothers to each other. I didn't choose this just because of him. I love everybody on the team. I love being part of the Braves and I want to be a Brave for the rest of my life."

Albies authored an impressive .261/.305/.452 slash line with 24 home runs and 14 stolen bases in his 2018 breakout sophomore season. So far this year, he's 16-for-49 with one dinger and a pair of steals.

The Braves won the NL East last year with a 90-72 record and a plus-102 run differential. The division is expected to be more competitive this season after substantial changes for the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals this winter. Atlanta currently sits one game back of the first-place Mets.

Braves' Albies justifies team-friendly contract: 'I'm not playing for money'
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