Christmas came a few days early for Braves fans, as the club announced a five year extension with Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte on Friday morning. The 26 year old Inciarte was acquired during the 2015 Winter Meetings along with Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair for Shelby Miller and Gabriel Speier. “We are thrilled to announce an extension for Ender said GM John Coppolella in a team release. “We feel that he’s the best defensive center fielder in baseball and one of the best leadoff hitters in the game” Coppy added.
In his first season sporting the Tomahawk, Inciarte overcame a hamstring injury in the first month of the season to hit .291 with a .351 OBP over 131 games. As the teams lead off hitter, Inciarte hit .308 and boasted a .372 OBP in 76 games at the top of the order.
Friday’s extension will also put the bed the rumors of Inciarte being a trade chip. It also likely means that Mallex Smith will begin 2017 in Gwinnett. The Atlanta outfield is set heading into SunTrust Park with Matt Kemp under control for three more seasons and Nick Markakis locked up through 2018.
Kevin McAlpin covers the Braves for @680_The_Fan and the @BravesRadioNet