The Astros are currently discussing extensions with starters Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required), though a deal with either seems unlikely. Rosenthal notes that the Astros may not be keen on paying market price for a multi-year extension with Verlander when that deal would begin in his age-37 season. Cole, meanwhile, is a Scott Boras client and thus likelier to test the free-agent market. Boras’ most recent extension for a starting pitcher was Nationals righty Stephen Strasburg, who (like Cole) was in his walk year when he signed a $175MM guarantee on a seven-year deal beginning in his age-28 season. Cole is in his age-28 season right now, so he’d be a year older than Strasburg at the time of a theoretical extension, but he’s also been more durable, reaching 200 innings in three of the past four seasons. Rosenthal makes a slightly less-aggressive comp than that, pointing out that Cole will reach free agency at the same age as Patrick Corbin and with better career stats. Corbin agreed to a six-year deal worth $140MM with the Nats this winter.
Since it’s officially “Extension Season” — as MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, there have been a virtually unprecedented 16 extension agreements during Spring Training — here’s more extension chatter from around the game…
- Rob Bradford of WEEI spoke to J.D. Martinez about the opt-out clause in his contract with the Red Sox at the end of the season. Martinez, who can opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5MM on his current deal, said there haven’t been any discussions about an extension or a restructuring of the contract to this point. Unlike last summer, however, he at least left open a slight window for in-season talks in his most recent interview with Bradford. Martinez has an opt-out after the third year of his contract as well, at which point there’d be two years and $38.75MM remaining on the deal.
- Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi was drafted five spot behind Alex Bregman and reached the Majors barely a week after the Astros’ third baseman, but Benintendi tells Bradford that his those similarities didn’t make him take particular note of Bregman’s $100MM extension. Rather, the 24-year-old Benintendi says it’s “fun to watch all these guys sign some deals” in a nod to the bevy of extensions throughout MLB. Benintendi and his reps have not discussed an extension with the Sox this winter, though he tells Bradford that he would “definitely” listen if the Sox initiated talks.
- MLB Network’s Jon Heyman spoke to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski about the team’s current slate of extension candidates (all links to Twitter). While it’s common for players to place Opening Day deadlines on extension talks, Dombrowski somewhat unusually took a similar stance. “We’re focused on winning this year,” he said. “…Unless something unexpected happens, we’re not going to do anything once the season starts.” Heyman notes that Xander Bogaerts, specifically, has stated an aversion to in-season negotiating. Regarding Martinez, Dombrowski merely stated that the Sox are “hopeful” he won’t opt out of his contract.
- The Tigers “haven’t engaged in any kind of [extension] conversations” with Nicholas Castellanos this spring, GM Al Avila told MLB.com’s Jason Beck yesterday. There’s been no formal offer or even any formal discussions on the matter with Castellanos’ agent, according to Avila, though he said the possibility of a deal is “obviously… in our minds.” Castellanos has expressed a desire to remain in Detroit on a long-term deal, though the rebuilding Tigers will undoubtedly view him as a possible trade asset this summer as well. If the two sides can eventually find a common ground in terms of price, however, Avila said he wouldn’t rule out an in-season extension. “He hasn’t said anything to the contrary,” Avila said of Castellanos being willing to negotiate beyond Opening Day. “I think he would be open to it.”