Yesterday, the Padres guaranteed one of their best players in 2013 would be around in 2014 and 2015 by locking Will Venable up to a two-year deal worth $8.5MM. Venable was already under team control through 2015, so the contract doesn't buy out any free agent years, but it does give San Diego some cost certainty. Here's more on Venable and his extension…
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes told reporters, including Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, that he began discussing an extension with Venable's agent before Venable's recent surge at the plate. “When I began talking to Will’s agent (Rex Gary) about the extension,” said Byrnes, “Will had 12 homers.” Venable hit his 12th homer of the season on July 23, so talks likely began in late July.
- Also from Center's piece, Byrnes said he considers Venable to be a "very young 30," because the outfielder didn't get serious about baseball until his sophomore season at Princeton.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock has video from the press conference announcing the contract, which features quotes from Venable and Byrnes. Venable is happy to have been drafted by the Padres and happy that he switched his focus from basketball to baseball in college. He adds: "Even though [statistically] I haven't consistently been where I want to be, I feel each year I have taken steps toward being the player I want to be, with this year being the biggest step."
- Eno Sarris of Fangraphs spoke with Venable at length regarding his approach at the plate and in the field. Venable said he hasn't made any drastic changes to his swing plane that would explain the boost in his power output, and he credits his success to staying in a rhythm at the plate. He also modestly says that he considers himself a corner outfielder after playing alongside a "true, elite center fielder" in Cameron Maybin, despite the fact that both UZR and DRS suggest that he's been solid in center. Sarris calls the contract a "no-brainer," noting that Venable has been a two-win player for several years before 2013's breakout.
- Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune looks at the recent extensions issued by Byrnes and notes that in a best-case scenario, Venable's deal is a bargain, and at worst, he now forms a cost-effective platoon with Chris Denorfia.
- My own take: It seems that Venable could have earned more on a year-to-year basis, but he chose the immediate security of a guarateed $8.5MM. That's no small sum for a player who had less than $6MM in career earnings entering the season. Venable's contract is one of many low-risk deals that Byrnes has issued since taking over as the Padres' GM and could save the team precious resources as they try to extend Chase Headley this offseason. Even if Venable's bat regresses a bit, his strong defensive track record and excellent baserunning will be more than enough to justify the modest commitment.