The Padres extended one infielder yesterday when they locked up Jedd Gyorko through the 2019 season for a total of $35MM, and today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports shines some light on San Diego's efforts to do the same with another of their infielders this past offseason. According to Heyman, the Padres offered third baseman Chase Headley a three-year extension worth $33-39MM. The deal would have gone into effect beginning in 2015, bringing Headley's four-year guarantee to a maximum of $49.525MM (Headley is earning $10.525MM in 2014).
The two sides are said to be nowhere close to finding a middle ground, writes Heyman, which isn't particularly surprising considering the fact that just one year ago, the Padres were prepared to make Headley an offer that would make him the highest-paid player in franchise history (topping Jake Peavy's $52MM guarantee). Headley, however, responded by stating that he didn't wish to dicuss contractual matters during the season.
At the time of the report, I speculated on Headley's chances at earning $100MM or more. Coming off a .286/.376/.498 season in which he belted 31 homers with 17 steals and elite defense, there seemed to be a case. Headley regressed to a still-solid batting line of .250/.347/.400 this past season (116 OPS+, 113 wRC+) and played his typically strong defense, but that platform year is far less enticing for a club than his MVP-caliber 2012 season. Headley and his agents at Excel Sports Management likely want to be compensated based on something closer to his ceiling (i.e. 2012), while the Padres look to be trying to leverage his decreased production into financial savings — a logical and understandable stance for each side.
A big year for Headley could persuade the Padres to up their offer, but they'd be doing so with Headley's first run through free agency nigh, and other, deeper-pocketed teams may be willing to outspend to secure the switch-hitter's service. Headley said earlier in Spring Training that he wasn't planning on discussing his contract until after the season. He's said in the past that his preference is to remain in San Diego, but the prospect of free agency may alter that thinking when the time comes in six months. Even without a return to his 2012 peak, Headley figures to be one of the most sought-after free agents on next year's open market.