It’s fairly typical to see several free-agents-to-be strike new contracts with their present organizations during Spring Training (or shortly thereafter). Last year, for instance, we saw Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), and Francisco Cervelli (Pirates) land long-term deals at the start of the 2016 season, reflecting negotiations that took place over the winter and, perhaps especially, during camp.
In some cases, the dealmaking can occur quite publicly, even if talks don’t result in an agreement. There were high-profile discussions last winter involving the Blue Jays and veteran sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. And who can forget the Jon Lester-Red Sox saga of 2014?
I’ve compiled a list of plausible extension candidates for consideration here. There are probably a few others, too, but this group seems to represent the bulk of the possibilities for deals keeping players off of the open market.
Jonathan Lucroy of the Rangers and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals are in very different situations in their respective organizations. Lucroy came to Texas via trade last summer, while Molina is a St. Louis legend. But both appear to be solid extension candidates. The Rangers may look to find some added value in Lucroy, who has been one of the game’s best receivers and doesn’t have a clear replacement behind him. Meanwhile, the Cards will no doubt hope Carson Kelly proves ready to take Molina’s place, but seemingly prefer to keep the veteran around for at least another few years to pass the baton.
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Core Royals Position Players
First baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and center fielder Lorenzo Cain were all key parts of the Royals’ Cinderella story, and all three are looking to bounce back from disappointing 2016 seasons (due to a combination of injury and performance downturns). While some had expected Kansas City to engineer a ramp-down of its veteran obligations — the team did trade away Jarrod Dyson and Wade Davis — the organization already locked up Danny Duffy and seems intent on at least exploring deals with this trio. The focus thus far appears to have been on Hosmer, with the similarly youthful Moustakas perhaps also representing a more obvious target, though it’s possible to imagine any (albeit probably not all) signing on to stay.
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There could be quite a lot of money spent on starting pitching next winter, at least so long as Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, and Masahiro Tanaka make it through strong seasons and don’t ink deals before reaching free agency. (Tanaka can also opt into the remaining three years and $67MM on his deal, it should be noted, though he’ll undoubtedly give that up so long as he remains healthy and effective.)
There’s a case to be made that none will reach new contracts. It’s far from clear whether the Cubs will pay enough to get Arrieta enough to bite, though talks are planned. Darvish’s injury questions may cloud his candidacy, but he could follow Strasburg in a surprise accord. In some ways, Tanaka represents the best possibility, despite his own elbow issues. He’s just 28, and the team is already bearing some risk over his health due to the opt-out (which really functions as a sizable player option).
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There are a few other players who could be under consideration as well. Neil Walker and the Mets have engaged in talks already, though it seems those could be foundering. Likewise, the Rockies are reportedly interested in discussing a new contract with Carlos Gonzalez. It’s questionable whether that’s a wise course given the team’s robust array of left-handed-hitting outfielders and Gonzalez’s own injury-related downturn in recent years, but he’s a star player who could still hold appeal to the Colorado organization. And perhaps there’s also a chance that the Indians look at a contract for Carlos Santana, though the presence of Edwin Encarnacion seemingly makes that less likely.
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Maybe the Cubs extend Wade Davis, I’d highly doubt it though.
If they weren’t willing to try and lock up Chapman they probably won’t extend Davis.
If I were them I’d let Davis go to free agency and if none of the other relievers were good enough to step into the closers role, I’d try to sign him back. No use spending a bunch of money before you know if you’ll truly need him
Perhaps put a QO on Wade Davis and flip him into a draft pick. Never pay for closers on the closer carousel
Probably won’t see many QO since the draft pick will change.
No way the Indians work out an extension with Santana unless it’s incredibly team friendly. Santana has a great eye but just can’t field well. Plus with Encarnacion declining they will need the DH spot open.
I also doubt anything will get done with the Royals core. It sounds like they’re trying to extend Hosmer but Boras is giving them trouble. I think Boras also represents Moustakas so that also seems unlikely. Their best bet is probably Cain but is that someone who you would even want extended?
I can see the Tribe possibly signing Santana to an extension, since he’s only 30.
But I can’t wait to see Bobby Bradley in a Tribe uniform, manning 1B in the near future.
My take on the Royals:
Don’t see how the Royals would be able to afford Hosmer. He’s going to want an 8-10 year deal, or a Freddie Freeman type deal, and they aren’t going to give that out to him. He’s just not good enough to warrant that big of a commitment from a team like the Royals, who are going to look to cut down on payroll after this season.. I think this whole extension discussion talk is just smoke from both sides knowing full well they’re going to part in the off-season. They just want the appearance of looking good to the public. A “hey we tried but it just didn’t work out” kind of thing. Especially from Hosmer, who is the most public relations conscious player I’ve ever seen in KC.
Cain will be 32 at the start of next season, with legs that are going on 50 in terms of health, so I don’t see the Royals giving him any money. He’ll be lucky to get a 3 year deal on the open market imo. Plus I believe Cain is still upset the Royals didn’t offer him an extension a few years ago.
Moustakas is the guy I’m hoping the Royals resign. He’s got the potential to hit 40 HRs in KC. He’ll be 29 at the end of this season, he plays solid defense and he’s a good clubhouse guy. Plus his skillset isn’t going to deteriorate the older he gets, so you can bet on at least 5 or so years of solid production before he starts to drop off. Plus you can always move him to DH or even 1st, where his bat will still play. The problem is he’ll most likely be the best 3rd baseman on the market if he has a solid year, which will most likely price him out of the Royals range.
I can see where they lose all 3, but offer Hosmer and Moustakas a QO because they’re most likely to get a $50MM+ deal.
Why is Artists leading the starters poll? He’s not taking an extension. Don’t hope, don’t wish, it’s just not going to happen.