Young stars I'd lock up long term now
April, 5, 2014
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsManny Machado is one of several young stars Jim Bowden would lock up long term now.As baseball’s revenues continue to break records year over year, clubs are well aware that, based on baseball history, those revenues normally get passed right down to the players.
Indeed, we’ve recently seen a flurry of six-year contract extensions by clubs for non-arbitration-eligible players in the past few months, including:
• Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, $144.5 million
• Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians, $23 million
• Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves, $32.4 million
• Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays, $25.5 million
• Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, $52.5 million
In addition to those six-year deals, there was also Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135 million extension, which is the longest contract in Braves history.
This proactive method benefits the team and the player. For the teams, they get to pre-emptively buy out some of the player's free-agent years, which should save them millions of dollars considering the ridiculous pace at which free-agent salaries are escalating. In exchange, the players receive lifetime security yet are still able to test the free-agent market again at a reasonably young age.
The Trout deal broke records at almost every aspect, and the Teheran and Archer deals were riskier because of pitchers’ greater chance of landing on the disabled list at some point in their six-year contract.
Gomes was the biggest gamble because he hasn’t established the track record the others did to justify committing those types of dollars. Regardless of the risk, clubs cannot ignore the opportunity to save so much money, making contracts such as these no-brainers.
When I look around the league, I see a number of other candidates for these kind of long-term deals. Here are nine pre-arbitration players I think teams would have a chance to lock up, plus four Boras Corp. clients who probably have very little chance to sign now -- Scott Boras almost always recommends his players hold out for free agency ASAP -- but should try anyway.
As always, agents will use recent deals as a framework when negotiating, and I've noted some recent deals that would provide a guideline for each player in question.
Non-arbitration-eligible players clubs should extend now
1. Manny Machado | 3B | Service time: 1+056 | Agent: MVP Sports
Note: Service time is as of Opening Day, and "1+056" means one year, 56 days.
Machado had offseason knee surgery and started the year on the disabled list, so of course the Orioles will need to make sure he is 100 percent upon his return before doing a deal. However, once he is back to full strength, they should be aggressive in getting him locked up. The time will never be better, the price and value never lower.