For the most part, players and teams like to get extensions done during Spring Training. That way, the players don’t have distractions during the season and the front offices have a better sense of their budget for the upcoming year. But sometimes those talks linger.
Despite their efforts, the Cubs weren’t able to ink any of their core players to an extension this time around, but we did ultimately see some deals for prospects (Scott Kingery), established players (Eugenio Suarez), and superstars (Jose Altuve) alike.
And now, we can add one more name to the list, as Rockies just announced an extension that can keep outfielder (and former free-agent-to-be) Charlie Blackmon in Colorado for quite a while:
All-Star. Silver Slugger. Batting Champion. Leader. Rockie.
We have agreed to terms with Charlie Blackmon on a six-year contract, including two player options, which could keep him with the club through the 2023 season. pic.twitter.com/OYq6ruJhQR
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 4, 2018
It may look like a four-year extension, but since the two options are player options, it’s more like a six-year deal with an opt out after the fourth and fifth seasons, so it’s going to be dubbed a six-year extension. More details from Ken Rosenthal:
Source: Blackmon extension is six years, $108M, including player options in 2022 and ‘23. If he remains with #Rockies for just first four years, deal will be worth $75M. Player options valued at $21M for ‘22 and $10M for ‘23 with escalators that could increase ‘23 salary to $18M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 4, 2018
The extension also begins immediately, which means it bought out one year of team control (Blackmon was going to be a part of that big free agent class at the end of this season, but not anymore!), and, at a minimum, three years of free agency.
Laying it out this way:
2018: $12 million + $2 million signing bonus
2019: $21 million
2020: $21 million
2021: $21 million
2022: $21 million Player Option
2023: $10 million Player Option (subject to various bonuses and escalators)
For more on the bonuses and escalators (which are tied to performance (MVP votes) and longevity (plate appearances) thresholds), check out Craig Calcaterra’s post at NBC Sports.
As for my thoughts on the deal … I’m not so sure I love it, to be honest. At least not in a vacuum.
Yes, Blackmon is coming off a monster 6.5 WAR, 141 wRC+ season, in which he smashed 37 homers and stole 14 bases (and 2016 was good to him, too), but he’s also already 31 years old, and was a positive on defense last season for the first time since 2012. An extension probably makes some sense, but one that gives Blackmon $31 million worth of options when he’s 35 and 36 years old just feels like a lot. If he’d played out this season, and was heading into his age 32 season (with a qualifying offer attached, and with lots of other bats on the market), would he get $90+ million guaranteed? Maybe. After what we saw this offseason, however, maybe not.
HOWEVER, this isn’t entirely within a vacuum. If you recall, the Rockies just spent over $100 million on their bullpen this offseason, and can expect the best from those investments over the next 2-3 years (when Blackmon is still likely to be quite good), and have Nolan Arenado for two more years. From that perspective – and given their surprise contention and competitiveness last season – I suppose I can understand. They are pushing the chips all in right now, and stuck with a guy they like … who also happens to be very good and was nearly on his way out the door.
As far as using this extensions for comparative/Cubs purposes … it’s not a great match. Blackmon is older than any of the players the Cubs would be extending right now. And the closest guy, Anthony Rizzo, plays a *very* different position (and a *very* different role in Chicago), while also having far more consistency at the plate.
So, it’s really just an interesting development/another benchmark to keep in mind, and not something we can take an apply directly to the Cubs. It also slightly thins out the monster free agent class, but only by one player.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.