It’s not a free agent signing, and it’s not an extension. So your intrigue here should be somewhat limited. HOWEVA, in the age of the hard luxury tax cap, these kinds of short-term, already-under-team-control extensions are probably going to become more prevalent as teams try to manage their payroll for luxury tax purposes (i.e., handle the AAV).
So, here’s the deal: burgeoning superstar George Springer was under three more years of team control, but he was a Super Two guy who’d already had one round of arbitration last year ($3.9 million). So he is going to make a whole lot of money in his arbitration years, not unlike Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, who are Cubs Super Twos who have just inked up their first arbitration year. Thus, as far as deals within the arbitration years – with a year of arbitration still remaining – this is an extremely pricey contract:
The Astros and George Springer have reportedly agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal https://t.co/1EQ6Vm7u5l
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 5, 2018
Springer, 28, was under team control for three more seasons after his second straight season worth at least 4.5 WAR and a huge postseason. Dude was gonna get paaaaaaid either way.
Since he was already controlled, what’s the upside here? Well, for Springer, it’s the guarantee that if disaster strikes this year, he won’t be non-tendered for nothing. For the Astros, it’s locking in a $12 million AAV *next* year, when perhaps they’ll want to spend aggressively in the big free agent market (who knows what their plans are?), and also locking in a 2019 salary in case Springer is excellent again in 2018.
The deal also has the potential to hold down Springer’s salary in his final year of arbitration slightly, since a part of that calculus is the “raise” a guy gets from his previous year salary. If he absolutely blows up this season, his 2019 arbitration salary could have approached $20 million, which would have, in turn, pushed his 2020 arbitration salary even higher. Now, it might not quite be able to climb so much.
Keep this deal in mind as you think about “extensions” for the Cubs’ young core. Not all the deals will buy out free agent years (or even all the arbitration years, necessarily), though that will definitely be one of the goals for the Cubs. Cost control and payroll certainty is another goal.
Lastly, a fun fact about betting on yourself:
Springer turned down seven-year, $23M offer from #Astros before playing a major-league game. That deal would have run through his first year of free agency. New two-year, $24M contract will increase career earnings to nearly $29M, with year of arb remaining before free agency.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 5, 2018