Busy Braves lock up closer Kimbrel

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Updated: 2/16 9:30 am

Lake Buena Vista, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Braves have avoided arbitration with Craig Kimbrel, agreeing to terms on a four-year contract with their All-Star closer.

The deal, which was announced on Sunday, includes an option for 2018 and continues the trend of Atlanta locking up its young talent.

"We are very excited to agree to terms with Craig, who we feel is the best closer in Major League Baseball," Braves general manager Frank Wren said in a statement. "He is one of the key pieces of our pitching staff and we are happy to keep him in a Braves uniform for at least four more years."

Only 25, Kimbrel has already recorded 139 saves, and the Atlanta Journal- Constitution reported he will earn $42 million over the four years. According to the paper, the option is worth $13 million.

Last season, the right-hander finished fourth in voting for the National League Cy Young Award after tying for the major league lead in saves with a career-high 50 and posted a 1.21 earned run average. He converted a franchise- record 37 straight save opportunities from May 9-Sept. 14, and is 15 saves shy of John Smoltz's all-time club mark.

The 2011 NL Rookie of the Year, Kimbrel is 15-7 with a 1.39 ERA in 231 career games.

It's been a costly offseason for the Braves, who also signed first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Jason Heyward and starting pitcher Julio Teheran to new contracts.

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