The staggering number of extensions teams doled out leading up to this season was among Major League Baseball’s main storylines last spring. Some of the players who inked those deals (Mike Trout and Ronald Acuna Jr., to name a couple) have picked up where they left off prior to receiving their new pacts. Others have fallen short of expectations, on the other hand. Here are several notable examples of just-extended players who have disappointed this season…
- Sale’s velocity began to plummet late last year – a season limited by shoulder problems – but after the Red Sox’s latest World Series triumph in the fall, they decided to make a big-money, long-term commitment to the southpaw. Unfortunately for Boston, Sale’s velocity hasn’t really recovered (at least not to its summer 2018 levels) during what has been a less-than-ideal season for him and the reigning champions. The 30-year-old entered 2019 having never logged an ERA higher than 3.41 in a season, but the number has skyrocketed to 4.68 through 132 2/3 innings in the current campaign. Furthermore, Sale’s average exit velocity against has climbed from 84.7 mph to 88.2 since last season, while his expected weighted on-base average has soared from .238 to .292. Most pitchers would sign up for a .292 mark, though, and Sale does remain a bear to deal with despite his sudden difficulty preventing runs. His 3.55 FIP, 3.06 xFIP and 3.10 SIERA are all terrific, as his 13.09 K/9 against 2.37 BB/9. Sale is clearly still a major asset, but he hasn’t been the elite force we’ve grown accustomed to watching.
- Set to turn 32 next month, Goldschmidt’s on track for the worst full season of his storied career, having hit .253/.333/.461 in 477 plate appearances. Although the former Diamondback has racked up 25 home runs, his offensive output has only been 8 percent better than the league-average batter, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric. Goldschmidt’s walks are down, his strikeouts are up, he’s chasing more out-of-zone pitches than ever, and his expected weighted on-base average – .351, a bit better than his .342 real wOBA – is down 33 points from last year. St. Louis didn’t expect any of that this season when it inked Goldschmidt to a franchise-record accord several months ago.
- Grichuk’s the one player on this list whose extension has already taken effect. While he is enjoying a red-hot early August, albeit one buoyed by a .533 batting average on balls in play, his season has still been a letdown compared to last year’s strong offensive showing. Never known for getting on base much throughout his career, the 27-year-old has batted .240/.296/.432 with 18 HRs across 452 PA. Grichuk’s ISO has sunk 65 points since 2018, having gone from .257 to .192. At the same time, his .286 xwOBA (compared to a .308 wOBA) only ranks in the league’s 11th percentile.
- Carpenter, like his teammate Goldschmidt, isn’t showing encouraging signs months after landing his new contract. The 33-year-old joined Goldschmidt as one of the National League’s top players from 2013-18, but he has hit a below-average .218/.325/.368 with 10 homers in 360 trips to the plate during an injury-shortened 2019 season. Carpenter’s walk, strikeout and isolated power numbers have all gone in worrying directions, while his .320 xwOBA (superior to a .300 wOBA, granted) is merely mediocre and far below where it was in recent years. Carpenter didn’t post an xwOBA worse than .383 in any season from 2015-18.
- After four straight years of hitting .247 and three straight seasons of swatting 40-plus home runs, the low-budget Athletics took a gamble by locking up Davis to a relatively big contract. He’s off to a tough start thus far. With minus-0.5 fWAR in 388 PA, Davis has been among the majors’ least valuable players this year. He’s hitting .230/.299/.398 with 17 homers and a .168 ISO, which is 134 points lower than the figure he recorded just a year ago. Davis is also barreling approximately 7 percent fewer pitches than he did from 2016-18, and his average exit velocity has fallen about 2.5 mph compared to the previous couple years. Although the 31-year-old’s .325 xwOBA does easily outdo his .299 wOBA, it still represents a significant drop-off for a player who put up a mark upward of .370 in each of the prior three seasons. In fairness to Davis, he has battled multiple injuries this year, so perhaps he’ll rebound if healthier in 2020.