Major League teams have agreed to 20 offseason extensions so far this winter, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows. Nine of those extensions — almost half of them — didn't extend the teams' control over the players with options or additional guaranteed years. Here's a closer look (click on team names for MLBTR's post on each extension):
Deals Covering Two Remaining Seasons Of Arbitration Eligibility
- Tim Lincecum, Giants
- Nelson Cruz, Rangers
- Michael Morse, Nationals
- Nick Masset, Reds
- Tony Gwynn Jr., Dodgers
Deals Covering First Two Seasons Of Arbitration Eligibility
Deals Covering Three Arbitration Seasons
Teams generally covet club options, and some teams, such as the Rays, have made a habit of obtaining multiple options on most or all extensions. Other clubs, such as the Red Sox, have insisted that extensions buy out at least one season of free agent eligibility.
Four teams — the Giants, Dodgers, Reds and Rangers — are responsible for eight of the nine offseason extensions that don't extend team control over the player. Those clubs accepted the risk that the players will suffer injuries or perform poorly in exchange for the possibility that they'll meet or exceed expectations on the field and turn out to be bargains.
Deals that don't buy out free agent years and don't include club options can turn out well for the teams, of course. They cap costs and avoid the rarely-pleasant arbitration process. For elite players like Lincecum and Kershaw, the savings could be substantial in 2013. However, the upside is generally limited for teams that commit to multiyear deals without extending club control.