The Spring of Extensions – I name thee, uh, thee.
What started as a mostly innocuous series of extensions throughout the league – ’tis the season, after all – has spiraled into something far greater. With extensions inked this Spring for young stars such as Aaron Nola, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Luis Severino, Nolan Arenado, and even Mike Trout, it’s clear that the fear of being iced out in free agency has spread to even the league’s best players (not all of those are apples-to-apples, but the broader trend is evident).
And it’s not stopping yet:
MLB sources: The #Astros have reached an agreement on a six-year/$100 million contract with All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman that includes this season. Deal covers this year & the 3 years he'd be eligible for arbitration plus the first two years Alex can become a free agent.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 20, 2019
Third baseman Alex Bregman is in agreement with the Houston Astros on a six-year, $100 million contract extension, a source confirms to ESPN. The deal will buy out two free agent years. First was @MarkBermanFox26.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 20, 2019
Alex Bregman, 24, broke out in a big way last season, slashing .286/.394/.532 (157 wRC+, 7.6 WAR), while finishing fifth in the AL MVP voting (behind all-world performers like Mookie Betts and Trout). And the Astros have awarded him for it with a $100M extension. Or did he award them by settling for less than expected?
The deal covers four years that were already under control, plus two additional would-have-been free agent years (2023 and 2024). So instead of being a free agent before the 2023 season at age 29, he won’t be a free agent until the 2025 season at age 31. Given his performance last year and his would-be early-age at free agency (the right side of 30), you could argue this falls on the side of a fear extension. Put another way: it’s hard to see an agent letting their superstar-caliber client make this deal just a two years ago.
As always, there is absolutely nothing wrong with rooting for these players to lock down life-changing money, but you just have to imagine a lot of these young stars could have (or rather, should have) gotten so much more. But this is the era, and uncertainty lies ahead with the next CBA.