The Best Extensions From Two Offseasons Ago

Back in January, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at the extensions from the 2009-10 offseason that are already looking like (or have proven to be) mistakes.  While some teams rue those deals, other teams have benefited.  While the jury is still out on a few of the longer-term contracts (i.e. Roy Halladay, Denard Span, Justin Upton), a few extensions signed between October 1, 2009 and April 5, 2010 are already clear wins for teams.

  • Matt Cain.  Before Cain signed his six-year, $127.5MM extension with the Giants last April, there was talk that the MLBPA was watching the negotiations with interest due to the perception that Cain had already signed two team-friendly extensions in his career.  It's hard to argue that San Francisco got a deal on Cain's three-year, $27.25MM extension from March 2010.  Cain was already owed $4.25MM for 2010 and (on a team option) $6.25MM for 2011, and his new deal gave those numbers a minor bump up to a guaranteed $11.25MM for 2010-11, plus $15MM for what would have been Cain's first free agent year in 2012.  Based on Cain's latest extension, the Giants saved themselves at least $5-6MM by keeping Cain off the market in 2012.  Cain, of course, has greatly outperformed his extension on the field.
  • Todd Helton.  The Rockies' star signed a two-year, $9.9MM extension for the 2012-13 seasons while also saving his team some money in the short term.  Helton was originally set to make $19.1MM in 2011 and faced a $23.6MM club option in 2012 that surely wold've been bought out for $4.6MM.  Instead, he earned $10.6MM in 2011 salary, with $13.1MM converted to deferred payments.  While Helton hasn't played well in 2012 at age 38, I still call this a minor win for the Rockies since they got some short-term salary relief and also made sure their franchise icon would retire in purple.
  • Tim Lincecum.  "The Freak" was coming into his first arbitration-eligible year with unprecedented leverage, having won the NL Cy Young Award in both 2008 and 2009.  Lincecum asked for a record $13MM in 2010, with the Giants countering with an $8MM offer.  Both figures ended up coming into play, as Lincecum signed a two-year extension that paid him $8MM in 2010 and $13MM in 2011, plus a $2MM signing bonus.  It would've been a fascinating "what if?" to see if the arbitrator would've sided with Lincecum, and if he had, Lincecum probably would've been on pace to earn around $30MM in arbitration over those two seasons.  The Giants saved themselves anywhere between $3MM to $7MM on the Lincecum extension.
  • Justin Verlander.  The ace righty isn't even halfway through his five-year, $80MM extension and yet it's already a deal the Tigers would happily do again.  Were it not for the extension, Verlander would've been a free agent last winter in the wake of his MVP-and-Cy Young-winning season.  He could've easily commanded a deal with an average annual value of at least $24MM per season, but Detroit has him locked up at $20MM per season from 2012-14.
  • Carlos Ruiz.  The catcher signed a three-year, $8.85MM extension with the Phillies that covered all three of his arbitration-eligible seasons.  "Chooch" has been a great bargain for the Phillies, hitting .304/.390/.445 over the last three seasons and is currently enjoying his best year in the majors at age 33 — Ruiz has a whopping 1.038 OPS through 161 plate appearances.  The savings will continue for the Phillies since they hold a $5MM team option on Ruiz for 2013 that looks like a no-brainer pickup.
  • Felix Hernandez.  Like Verlander's contract, Hernandez's extension covered his last two arb years and his first three free agent years, though the Mariners locked up their ace for $78MM, slightly less than what it cost the Tigers to extend Verlander.  Hernandez will earn $58MM from 2012-14, and had he reached free agency, he would've gotten at least $24MM per year on the open market and a return to Seattle would've been next to impossible.  Hernandez's deal is reasonable for a pitcher in his prime and he would net a huge trade return if the Mariners ever decided to deal him. 
  • Shane Victorino.  The Phillies signed Victorino to a three-year, $22MM extension that covered his final two arb years and his first free agent year.  Victorino had a career-best performance in 2011 and would've earned at least $3.5MM more on the free agent market than the $9.5MM Philadelphia is paying him this season.
  • Matt Kemp.  The Dodgers covered Kemp's first two arb-eligible seasons with a two-year, $10.95MM contract that guaranteed him $4MM in 2010 and $6.95MM in 2011.  Obviously it was a bargain performance-wise given Kemp's monster 2011 campaign, but Kemp's disappointing 2010 season would've brought down his 2011 arb number, so the Dodgers probably ended up saving maybe $1MM at most.  Then again, giving Kemp that early security was a sign that the Dodgers were committed to their center fielder, which may have been a factor in Kemp signing his eight-year, $160MM extension last winter despite the fact that the Dodgers hadn't yet solved their ownership problems.
  • Tim Hudson.  Rather than pick up Hudson's $12MM club option for 2012, the Braves instead extended the veteran on a three-year, $28MM contract that includes a $9MM option ($1MM buyout) for 2013.  The Braves took a risk by extending a pitcher who was entering his age-34 season, but Hudson posted a 3.02 ERA and threw 443 2/3 innings in 2010-11.  His numbers are down a bit in 2012, but the Braves have already gotten a very good return on their investment.


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6 Responses to The Best Extensions From Two Offseasons Ago Leave a Reply

  1. Redlegs55 3 years ago

    Johnny Cueto ‘s deal seems to be paying off as well

  2. Lunchbox45 3 years ago

    this is a no brainer, verlander

  3. MSUcorner 3 years ago

    Why even throw the extra sentence about King Felix’s trade value? He isn’t going anywhere. He’s a self-proclaimed Seattlite and Mariner for life.

    • Because it’s 100% true that IF the Mariners deal him, he’ll get them a huge return.

  4. Jury still out on Halladay?  Sure he’s injured this year.  But the last two years lead to 2 playoff appearances, while him throwing a regular season perfect game, post-season no-hitter, averaging 20 wins/season with an ERA around 2.50 and won a Cy Young.  Hmmm…not sure if he was worth it…

  5. Bern66 3 years ago

    Some clarification on the Cain extension.  The deal was for guaranteed $112.5M in new money; $20 million for 5yrs annually beginning in 2013, a $5 million signing bonus and a $7.5 million buyout if his vested option of $21 million for 2018 doesn’t kick in and Giants don’t exercise their side. It would be exercised if he pitched 200 innings in 2017 or 400 in 2016 and 2017 – that is, unless he ends the final season on the disabled list with an elbow or shoulder ailment.  Max money would make it $126M -6yr deal and covers his year 28-32yr old season, option year is his 33yo season.

    The deal keeps getting reported as 6yr/127.5M because the Giants add a no trade clause to this season, but his salary for this year is unchanged from the prior extension he signed.  What’s interesting is the extension Cain is now wrapping up was suppose to have 1 more year of free agency bought out. During negotiation that spring Cain was sidelined with some elbow discomfort for a couple of weeks and 4yrs became 3yrs. 

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