Riley will earn $15 million in 2023, $21 million in 2024, and $22 million per year over the remainder of the contract. He donates $2.12 million to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
With this extension, the Braves bought out Riley’s last three years of officiating. With the way he’s evolving as a player, they probably saved money by doing it now instead of waiting for him to reach free agency, which would have been after the 2025 season.
Riley, 25, is .301 batting with a .964 OPS in 101 games this season. He has 29 home runs and 68 RBIs. Riley, named to his first team all-star this year, leads the majors with 61 extra hits. He ranks fourth in circuits and sixth in OPS.
According to Baseball Reference, Riley ranks eighth in baseball with 4.7 wins above replacement (WAR). Among the players ahead of him: Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and Nolan Arenado.
“He did everything to play in the big leagues, to succeed,” Bridges told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a phone interview Monday night. “I know the hard work he put in and I know his struggles along the way. I couldn’t be happier for him, I couldn’t be happier for his wife, and I couldn’t be happier for his entire family.
And with his performance in July, he placed himself in the National League MVP conversation. In 26 games in July, Riley hit .423 with an OPS of 1.344. He had 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 25 RBIs.
His 26 extra hits during the month are the most by a Braves player in a calendar month, breaking a record set by Hall of Famer Hank Aaron in 1961. His batting average and homer totals of the Month put him along with Hall of Famer Chipper Jones as the only Braves players to hit .400 with double-digit home runs in a month.
Since the Braves drafted Riley with the 41st overall pick in 2015 from DeSoto Central High School in Southhaven, Mississippi, he has become one of the best hitters in the sport. Last season, Riley finished seventh in NL MVP voting after batting .303 with 33 home runs and 107 RBIs. He also won his first Silver Slugger Award and was named to the All-MLB First Ream. In the playoffs, he homered twice and hit a single in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers.
His meteoric rise has earned him a great deal.
“I kind of thought he was forcing it based on last year and how he’s been doing so far this year,” Bridges said. “I wouldn’t bet against the child. I know what he had done.”
Riley, who debuted in 2019, was an arbitration-eligible player slated to become a free agent after the 2025 season. But he placed himself among the group of baseball’s best third basemen. Now he will be paid as such because his contract exceeds Matt Olson’s eight-year, $168 contract for the richest in Braves history.
In terms of average annual value on his contract, Riley’s deal will rank fourth for third basemen. Anthony Rendon’s seven-year, $245 million contract leads the pack, followed by Nolan Arenado’s eight-year, $260 million contract and Manny Machado’s 10-year, $300 million contract.
The Braves have placed themselves in an excellent position with their quartet of young stars:
– Riley is now signed at least for the 2032 season.
– Ronald Acuña is signed until the 2026 season but his contract includes club options for 2027 and 2028.
– Matt Olson’s contract runs until 2029 and includes a club option for 2030.
– Ozzie Albies’ deal has club options for 2026 and 2027.
They are three members of the starting infield and one of the starting outfield, under control for a long time. The Braves are used to fielding players loved by fans. From Hank Aaron to Chipper Jones, they’ve had a fair amount of franchise cornerstones. During his extension, Riley could become one of them.
As Riley tore through opposing pitchers, becoming one of the best hitters in the game, a question arose: Could the Braves fit him into their long-term future? Atlanta answered the question resoundingly.
At one point during the Braves’ scouting trip with Riley in 2015, Bridges found himself near Riley on backcourt. With no other scouts around, Bridges approached Riley and asked her the same question he would eventually ask Riley’s mother.
“Pitcher or hitter? Bridges asked.
“I’m a hitter,” Riley said, short and sweet.
The rest, as they say, is history.