Players Who Chose Extensions Over Free Agency

This year’s free agent class is strong in the outfield and unremarkable in most other areas. It didn’t have to be that way though. Until quite recently it appeared that the free agent class would include many more star players. Instead, some of those players signed extensions that will keep them in place for 2013 and beyond. 

MLBTR's Extension Tracker offers a look at some players who came close to hitting free agency before deciding to re-sign with their current teams. These players would have joined Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke in free agency this coming offseason if they hadn’t signed long-term deals earlier in 2012 (minimum $20MM): 

  • Cole Hamels, Phillies – The Phillies signed Hamels to a $144MM extension in July instead of letting him reach free agency. The left-hander would have been the top pitcher available following another tremendous season: a 3.05 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 203 1/3 innings.
  • Matt Cain, Giants – Cain signed for $112.5MM before the season began. It represented a record contract for right-handed pitchers, but Cain would have obtained more on the open market following yet another season with an ERA under 3.00 and 200-plus innings.
  • Andre Ethier, Dodgers – Ethier signed a five-year, $85MM contract in June, before it became fully apparent that the Dodgers are willing to spend aggressively under their new ownership group. Ethier has turned in a characteristically strong season: 19 homers and a .285/.350/.459 batting line.
  • Yadier Molina, Cardinals – Molina, who signed a five-year, $75MM contract in February, is an MVP candidate this year. He's hitting .319/.376/.503 with 20 homers and elite defense behind the plate. The Cardinals have reason to be thrilled with the early results of this contract.
  • Brandon Phillips, Reds – Phillips remains one of the game's top second basemen. If the 31-year-old hadn't signed a six-year, $72.5MM contract in April, he would've been a welcome addition to a free agent market that lacks star-caliber infielders.
  • Erick Aybar, Angels – This four-year, $35MM contract keeps the 28-year-old in Anaheim following a very good season (3.7 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference and 3.1 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs).
  • Howie Kendrick, Angels – Kendrick signed a four-year, $33.5MM contract in January and has gone on to put together a respectable season. He has a .279/.317/.388 batting line in 563 plate appearances and would likely have drawn lots of interest as a free agent.
  • Carlos Quentin, Padres – Quentin's three-year, $30MM contract keeps him off of the open market, where he would have generated interest after hitting .263/.373/.509 while playing half of his games at Petco Park.
  • Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays – Encarnacion obtained a three-year, $29MM contract from the Blue Jays midway through his breakout season. In the two-plus months since signing the deal, Encarnacion has added 17 home runs with more walks than strikeouts.


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14 Responses to Players Who Chose Extensions Over Free Agency Leave a Reply

  1. leachim2 3 years ago

    Huston Street

  2. LazerTown 3 years ago

    Aside from Encarnacion and Molina I don’t think any of them would have made quite as much on the open market. Ethier is the most overpaid of the bunch. He is really not that special of a RFer. Yet they gave him $17M aav.

    • Tko11 3 years ago

      Cain and Hamels could of got more I think.

      • LazerTown 3 years ago

        Hamels is making 24M That is only behind sabathia, who is the highest non-position player. That pretty much prices him out of all except maybe the top 8 teams, and the Yankees don’t have the flexibility to get involved. Hard seeing any other teams topping that.

        • Lionel Bossman Craft 3 years ago

          I think the Phillies overpaid for him.

      • Up until July, there was a pretty compelling argument for the Dodgers to pick up Cole Hamels in a trade and sign him to a long-term deal as their #2 behind Kershaw. That was, of course, before they decided to absorb half of the Boston Red Sox squad like the second coming of The Borg.

    • sherrilltradedooverexperience 3 years ago

      If his history of playing through injury is what’s keeping him from hitting LHP like he did earlier in his career, it could be a good deal from the dodgers end. Of course, if lefties just figured him out at the mlb level and he truly is a platoon guy in his prime then this is a bad deal for the team.

      • LazerTown 3 years ago

        Other regulars have some rough splits, granderson has a similiar one to ethier, so he is a fine regular. My only problem is that unless he can get back up to 30 hr then it is getting a bit expensive, rf is not a difficult position to fill, and now with kemp, CC, and Ethier locked up it means that they can’t move kemp to right in a couple years. That OF could get pretty shabby aside from CC.

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

          Lol aside from Crawford? He’s the biggest question mark. Kemp has been hurt all year and is STILL putting up numbers that are considered great for a CF: 305 average, 20 bombs, and nearly 900 OPS. With a full year, and based on Kemps healthy months, I’d be shocked if his next few years aren’t a lot better than this one

          • LazerTown 3 years ago

            Was talking about defensive capability in a couple seasons, and how everyone in the outfield is locked up for at least 5 more seasons.

    • Don’t be so sure about Matt Cain. There are always teams looking for a top of the rotation starter, and while $112.5m sets a record for a righty, there’s no doubt that a team with deeper pockets (*coughRedSox*) would have probably been willing to mortgage their future for the chance to build a team around him.

    • Sky14 3 years ago

      I think Aybar could have got a deal around 5 years 45-50 million on the open market. Its rare to have a quality SS in free-agency.

  3. 55saveslives 3 years ago

    Glad we locked up Cain! He has been STELLAR! Getting better every year!

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