|The Braves signed up for Teheran's bright future (CBSSports)|
Teheran was terrific in 2013, his first full season, posting a 3.20 ERA (121 ERA+) with 170 strikeouts in 185-plus innings. He displayed great control for a 22 year-old rookie too, walking just 2.2 batters per nine innings and 45 in all. His 3.78 K/BB rate was one of the ten best in the National League. Most years that probably would have been good enough for Rookie of the Year honors, but not in 2013, which produced one of the most stacked rookie classes in baseball history. Teheran finished fifth in the NL voting, far behind frontrunners Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig.
So based on what we saw last year, it looks like Atlanta is getting a fantastic deal. Teheran's future looks bright, and the upside of signing a player like him after his rookie year is that he still has room to grow and potentially get better. The Braves just got him to sign away his prime for little more than $30 million, which could be a huge steal if Teheran improves into a Cy Young contender or even stays the same as a steady number two. His most similar player by age so far is Kevin Appier, and if Teheran is the next Appier (an All-Star with more than 100 wins and a 3.30 ERA before his 30th birthday) then the Braves are golden.
All long term commitments carry risk, though, and in this case Teheran's track record is so short. Who's to say Teheran isn't just a fluky one-year wonder? Plus, a lot can happen between now and 2020. Teheran could get hurt next year and never be the same. He could flame out after a few seasons. Pitchers are much harder to project than position players because they're so fragile and their performances tend to be more volatile.
But even if Teheran doesn't pan out, $32 million spread out over six years isn't going to cripple the Braves by limiting their payroll flexibility in any way. It won't be a burden the way contracts for Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and others have been. Thus, Teheran is a risk worth taking.