ATLANTA (AP) — Braves manager Brian Snitker agreed to a two-year contract extension after guiding Atlanta to the NL East title and its first playoff berth since 2013. The deal announced Monday includes a club option for 2021.
The extension is sure to be met with approval in a young clubhouse. The players constantly praised Snitker and how he always had their back.
"He did a remarkable job," star first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "It's really hard to handle 25 to 35 personalities, and he's one of the best at it."
Snitker was appointed interim managed in May 2016 after the firing of Freddie Gonzalez. He will be heading into his third full season as the club's manager and 43rd as a member of the organization.
After a third straight 90-loss season in 2017, the Braves improved to 90-72 with some of baseball's best young talent, including Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Mike Foltynewicz. They lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.
A day after the season ended, Snitker said he felt good about the team's future and looked forward to returning. He turns 63 on Wednesday.
Snitker acknowledged that the team still has plenty of issues to address after its four-game loss to the Dodgers, a high-priced, star-powered team that gave him an indication of what the Braves are aiming to become.
The Atlanta pitching staff lacked a dominant starter, the lineup needs more power, and the bench wasn't much help.
"We're going to get there, but we're not there yet," Snitker said. "We're not a finished product by any stretch."
When Snitker took over the Braves, he was the fourth-oldest rookie manager in baseball history.
"I've always been a late bloomer," he cracked during spring training in 2017, after the interim tag was removed. "I don't feel my age. I'm going to just enjoy it for what it is and have a good time with it."
Snitker has been with the organization since 1977, spending four seasons as a minor league catcher and first baseman before moving into coaching.
He became a manager for the first time in the Class A South Atlantic League at 26, and his star seemed on the rise when he joined the big league club as a bullpen coach in 1985.
It didn't last. He returned to the minors the following season, settling into a largely overlooked career as an organizational jack-of-all-trades. He managed at every level of the minors, from the rookie leagues to Triple-A, and got two more stints as a coach for the big league team.
"After being up here and seeing what those guys go through and all that, I was like, 'Eh, I'm getting to that age where it probably won't (happen)'" Snitker said in 2017. "Then, all of a sudden, they called. It's like, 'Heck, yeah, I'll do it.'"