It appears that we may already be headed toward our first long-term deal of Spring Training, as Brian Dozier and the Twins are said to be making progress on a long-term deal. Fans should get accustomed to seeing a lot more of this in March, if history is any indication, as Spring Training is often used as a time for teams to negotiate long-term deals with up-and-coming players or to extend the contracts of veterans already under control. Here’s a look at the past couple of years’ worth of action on the March extension front, with an assist from the MLBTR Extension Tracker…
2014 (Extension Tracker link)
- Matt Carpenter, Cardinals agree to six-year, $52MM extension: Fresh off an MVP-caliber season, the 28-year-old Carpenter inked this pact. Like Dozier, he was between two and three years of service time. While he didn’t quite repeat his 2013 success, Carpenter enjoyed a strong season for the Redbirds and made his second straight All-Star team, doing little to suggest that the Cardinals erred in their decision to extend him.
- Glen Perkins, Twins agree to two-year, $14.1375MM extension: Perkins, too, made his second straight All-Star team in 2014, though a late-season forearm strain caused his numbers to dip dramatically (his ERA spike from 2.44 to 3.65 before he was shut down Sept. 16). A Minnesota native, Perkins said at the time of the deal he hoped to remain with the Twins for the long haul. The deal gave him two additional guaranteed years, while the Twins picked up a 2018 club option.
- David Ortiz, Red Sox agree to one-year, $16MM extension: Arguably the face of the Red Sox, Ortiz’s contract eliminated the concern of free agency this past offseason and gave Boston a pair of $10MM club options that can vest at 425 PAs and increase in worth with further PAs. Ortiz launched 35 homers last year, showing no signs of his age.
- Jose Quintana, White Sox agree to five-year, $21MM extension: Quintana’s deal looks like a brilliant move by the Sox on the heels of a second straight 200-inning season. Quintana notched a 3.32 ERA with even better marks in stats like FIP (2.81), and both his strikeout and walk rates trended in the right direction. Quintana secured his first fortune on the deal and can still hit the free agent market at 32 even if a pair of club options are exercised. Quintana’s guarantee is contingent on his Super Two status, and it seems likely that he’d have been a Super Two, meaning the figure will jump from $21MM to $26.5MM. Add in the options, and he can earn $47.5MM over seven years.
- Starling Marte, Pirates agree to six-year, $31MM extension: Marte shook off a rough start to the 2014 season and wound up finishing with better numbers than he did in his breakout 2013. He’s batted .286/.349/.447 over the past two seasons, flashing 15-homer power and 35-steal aptitude on the bases. He’s only 26, so he may have even more in the tank.
- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers agree to eight-year, $248MM extension: Cabrera’s monstrous extension came on the heels of a pair of MVPs and a Triple Crown, but he wasn’t fully healthy in 2014 and his otherworldly numbers dropped to “merely” excellent as a result. However, the notion of paying a 40-year-old Cabrera $32MM is a tough one to get behind, regardless of how great he’s been in his late 20s and early 30s.
- Mike Trout, Angels agree to six-year, $144.5MM extension: Trout didn’t go the Giancarlo Stanton route of signing a potentially lifetime contract, instead opting for a six-year deal that will let him hit free agency entering his age-29 season. If he keeps up his current pace, he could set a free agent record that won’t be touched for quite some time. Still just 23, Trout took home his first MVP last season with a .287/.377/.561 batting line and 36 homers.
- Yan Gomes, Indians agree to six-year, $23MM extension: Gomes wasn’t a household name at the time of the deal and that may still be the case, but he should be one. The Brazilian backstop has emerged as one of baseball’s best catchers, and he combined elite defense with a strong .278/.313/.472 batting line last season.
2013 (Extension Tracker link)
- Chris Sale, White Sox agree to five-year, $32.5MM extension: Sale is on a short list of baseball’s very best pitchers and may have won a Cy Young Award last season were it not for a stint on the disabled list that limited him to 174 innings. His contract allows him to hit the open market at age 31, even if (or, when) both of his options are exercised by Chicago, and in the meantime, the Sox will enjoy a pitcher that has worked to a 2.79 ERA in three full seasons of rotation work.
- Allen Craig, Cardinals agree to five year, $31MM extension: Craig is one of few names on this list whose deal has gone somewhat south. It looked like a sound move in year one, but a foot injury in 2014 resulted in an abymal .215/.279/.315 slash line. There’s still time to rebound and easily justify the deal, but there’s no certainty of that happening at this time, and he’s already been flipped to the Red Sox in the John Lackey trade.
- Carlos Gomez, Brewers agree to three-year, $24MM extension: Gomez was the rare Scott Boras client that signed an extension, and Boras may use Gomez as the poster boy for future clients shying away from long-term deals. In what would have been his walk year, Gomez hit .284/.338/.506 with 24 homers, 40 steals and elite defense. That production, heading into his age-28 season, could have resulted in an enormous contract. However, Gomez still stands to be paid handsomely following the 2016 season; he more or less repeated those elite numbers in 2014 and will hit the open market heading into his age-30 campaign.
- J.A. Happ, Blue Jays agree to one-year, $5.4MM extension: Happ signed a somewhat bizarre extension that bought out his final year of arbitration eligibility at the price of surrendering a year of team control via club option, and the Mariners will be the ones to receive whatever value he provides in that option year, as he was flipped to Seattle for Michael Saunders in a one-for-one swap. Happ recorded a 4.22 ERA in 158 frames last season but will be in a much better pitchers’ park in 2015.
- Adam Wainwright, Cardinals agree to five-year, $97.5MM extension: Wainwright is entering the second season of this deal and his been his typically excellent self since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2012. Some are concerned about the mileage on his arm and his age, but he’s still among the top pitchers in the National League. Wainwright posted a 2.38 ERA in 227 innings last season and finished third in Cy Young voting.
- Buster Posey, Giants agree to eight-year, $159MM extension: Posey signed on to be the face of the franchise in San Francisco, and he’s been just that over the past two seasons (perhaps alongside Madison Bumgarner), hitting .303/.368/.470 in 1200 plate appearances. That production becomes even more impressive when considering it’s coming from a catcher who plays half his games in the cavernous AT&T Park.
- Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks agree to five-year, $32MM extension: Speaking of faces of the franchise, Goldschmidt has undoubtedly become that in Arizona. A fractured hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch cut his 2014 season short, but Goldy’s hit .302/.399/.548 over the past two seasons, homering at a pace of 34 per 162 games played in that time. He’s among baseball’s very best overall hitters.
- Justin Verlander, Tigers agree to five-year, $140MM extension: Verlander was excellent in 2013 before struggling through perhaps his worst season in 2014. He underwent core muscle surgery on his abdomen last January, which may have impacted his season, but he’ll need to bounce back from his 4.54 ERA and see his 6.9 K/9 rebound, because his extension technically begins this year. (He was already controlled through 2014 when he signed.) Verlander will be paid $28MM annually through 2019 — his age-36 season.