Teams and players have agreed to 19 offseason extensions so far this winter, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows. Six of those extensions don'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
Deals Covering First Two Seasons Of Arbitration Eligibility
- Logan Ondrusek, Reds
- Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies
- Cliff Pennington, Diamondbacks
- Craig Stammen, Nationals
- Josh Thole, Blue Jays
This marks a shift compared to a similar point during the 2011-12 offseason, when approximately half of the extensions signed didn’t extend club control. It wouldn’t be prudent to draw too many conclusions from a single offseason, especially when that offseason isn’t yet complete. However, the dropoff struck me as noteworthy.
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 have insisted that extensions buy out at least one season of free agent eligibility. In general, extending team control is a prime reason teams look to extend players.
The clubs above are taking on the risk that the players will suffer injuries or perform poorly. Yet deals that don't buy out free agent years and don't include club options can turn out well for the teams. These clubs will benefit if the players meet or exceed expectations on the field and turn out to be bargains relative to what they would have earned going year to year in arbitration.
So far this winter it seems that teams are becoming a little more hesitant to complete multiyear deals that don’t extend club control. The limited upside doesn’t seem to be tempting clubs right now.