Could the Rays have started a new trend by locking up Evan Longoria after just 24 major league plate appearances? Probably not, though we have seen teams locking up players earlier and earlier. The Rockies secured Troy Tulowitzki for the next six years, with a $15MM option for a seventh. And the D’Backs decided they want Chris Young around through at least 2013.
The Diamondbacks have another player who stands to make some decent cash before he reaches free agency: Justin Upton. The youngest player in baseball is off to a scalding start after struggling in 152 plate appearances as a 19-year-old last year. He will be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, and will enter the 2014 season at age 26.
Upton hasn’t been approached by the Diamondbacks about an extension, but he’s not sweating it. "I want to get through my first season," Upton said. "I’m not going to rush into anything." Indeed, it might be in his best financial interest to let this play out. Or, at least, take the Alex Rodriguez path and not sign a deal that takes him past his first year of free agency.
At 26 years old, Upton will be in high demand in the 2013-2014 offseason. In fact, with Miguel Cabrera locked up through 2015, at which time he’ll be entering his age-31 season, it stands to reason that Upton could be the next $200MM player. Then again, we said the same thing about Cabrera, and things didn’t quite turn out that way.
If Upton keeps up his hot hitting throughout the season, I wouldn’t expect him to sign any deal, options or not, that takes him past 2013, try as the Diamondbacks might.
Posted by Joe Pawlikowski.