One of the game's best young pitchers signed a contract extension yesterday that will take him to his 30th birthday, as the Marlins finally locked up Josh Johnson to a four-year deal worth $39MM. The extension mirrors the deal Kansas City gave Zack Greinke before last season, and is just the latest example of a club willing to assume the risk of a breakdown in exchange for cost certainty.
Paul Maholm, Scott Baker, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Matt Cain, Jon Lester, and James Shields are other young arms who have sacrificed the superior earning power of the arbitration process for financial security in recent years. Who do the readers of MLBTR think the next young pitcher to agree to an extension could be?
Leaving aside the big names like Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander, and Felix Hernandez, here's a few pitchers who already have, or will soon enter into their arbitration years…
- Yovani Gallardo – the Brewers' young ace struck out 204 batters and allowed just 150 hits in 185.2 innings last season, and will be arb eligible following the 2010 season.
- Matt Garza – one of Tampa's many young power arms, Garza has struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings in his career, and has made 62 starts over the last two years. He's arb eligible as a Super Two this offseason.
- Jair Jurrjens – perhaps the best pitcher no one talks about, Jurrjens led the NL in starts last year and owns a 3.21 career ERA. He'll be up for arbitration after the 2010 season.
- Wandy Rodriguez – his breakthrough season last year included a 3.06 K/BB ratio and 193 strikeouts in 205.2 innings. Wandy is arb eligible for the second time this offseason after earning $2.6MM in 2009.