SATURDAY: Talks between the two sides are “at the finish line,” Passan reports (via Twitter). Ventura will receive $22MM in guaranteed money in the deal. One version of the contract that was discussed was a five-year deal with two club option years, which would’ve given the Royals control over another of Ventura’s free agent seasons. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter links) reports that the five guaranteed years and two option years is indeed the structure of Ventura’s extension. The contract would begin in 2015 and a source tells Flanagan that it should be completed within 48 hours.
FRIDAY: The Royals are in negotiations with young righty Yordano Ventura about a five-year extension that would include an option for a sixth season, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. The deal currently being contemplated by the two sides would guarantee Ventura over $20MM.
A new contract along these lines would be a fascinating study in risk and reward for both the club and the Relativity Baseball client. In spite of his excellence at a young age and significant arbitration earning capacity, the 23-year-old seems to profile as something of an injury risk. In addition to drawing frequent remarks on the velocity that comes out of his small frame, Ventura had a few minor arm issues crop up last year.
Ventura will enter the 2015 season with just over one full year of big league service, meaning he projects to reach arbitration eligibility in 2017 and free agency in 2020. While he is at an early position on the service curve, Ventura has already established himself as the type of productive arm worthy of investment: last year, he tossed 183 innings of 3.20 ERA ball with 7.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 and a 47.6% groundball rate. ERA estimators indicate that his ERA may be somewhat lower than his real production, but they still credit him as an above-average starter in his first full season in the big leagues.
One significant question, assuming a deal along the lines of that reported does in fact get done, is when the contract kicks in. A five-year guarantee with a sixth-year option would give Kansas City control over one free agent season if it begins with the 2015 campaign.