At the Royals’ fanfest event today, general manager J.J. Picollo told reporters (including MLB.com’s Anne Rogers) that the team is considering extensions for its core of young players. Any deals may not be particularly close and it isn’t known how far any talks have progressed, but Picollo didn’t put a specific timeline on negotiations, saying the Royals would explore the topic throughout the year.
“It is something that we’ve discussed,” Picollo said. “We’ve studied other extensions signed, and when they get to certain years of service, now you get better comps of, this is what it should look like. Hopefully, the partner on the other end feels the same way.”
As Rogers notes, such players as Bobby Witt, Brady Singer, and Vinnie Pasquantino fit the model of young extension candidates the Royals would certainly have interest in locking in as key parts of their future. MJ Melendez, Drew Waters, or Michael Massey could conceivably also be on the radar for long-term deals, and it’s safe to assume that pitchers like Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic, or Jackson Kowar won’t be considered until they show more at the Major League level.
Naturally, it isn’t any surprise that Kansas City (or any team) has interest in extending promising youngsters. Once offseason business is complete, most clubs turn their attention to discussing longer-term contracts with in-house players, which is why so many extensions are commonly announced in the period from roughly mid-March to mid-April.
For a lower-payroll team like the Royals, there is both added value and added risk in extending their stars of the future. If these youngsters do end up living up to their potential, early-career extensions can end up being huge bargains for the team, saving the Royals millions in arbitration costs and free agent dollars. On the flip side, if the players don’t deliver at the MLB level, then an extension can become an albatross on the somewhat limited Kansas City payroll.
Owner John Sherman also addressed reporters on the topic of extensions, saying that he’ll be at the Royals’ Spring Training camp to talk extensions with the team’s front office (and, presumably, any agents should negotiations develop at a serious pace). “I’d love to know we’ll have some of these guys beyond their arbitration years. It becomes very valuable, because you have cost certainty,” Sherman said. “Plus, if you’re going to lose them in five years, you’ve got to think about, how do you get a return on a really talented guy in their fourth or fifth year?”
There hasn’t been any real spending increase since Sherman officially took ownership of the Royals in late 2019, though naturally both the pandemic and the Royals’ ongoing rebuild impacted the club’s investment in its Major League roster. This has also been an offseason of change for the franchise, with Picollo taking over baseball operations from Dayton Moore in September and Matt Quatraro hired as the Royals’ new manager.
With all this in mind, Kansas City’s past history of extensions may not be fully instructive in trying to predict how the Royals may head into this next wave of contract talks, as Picollo and Sherman could have a different approach than Moore and previous owner David Glass. Since Witt, Pasquantino, Melendez, and Massey all just made their big league debuts in 2022, it represents some difference just in exploring extensions with such inexperienced players, though Moore was no stranger to this tactic — such players as Joakim Soria, Yordano Ventura, and Salvador Perez all had less than two seasons of MLB service time when they signed extensions during Moore’s tenure.
Singer has the most experience of the Royals’ younger core, and since he and the Royals are currently scheduled for an arbitration hearing, it stands to reason that the club might have already floated the idea of an extension to Singer and his reps at Excel Sports Management. With the exception of a minor sophomore slump in 2021, Singer has been solid to excellent throughout his three Major League seasons, highlighted by a 3.23 ERA over 153 1/3 innings last season.
Singer is aiming for a $3.325MM salary for 2023, while K.C. countered with a $2.95MM figure. Since Singer gained Super Two qualification, this will be the first of four trips through the arbitration process for the right-hander, so this upcoming hearing has added importance in establishing the starting point for Singer’s future salaries. The Super Two status also adds even more incentive for the Royals to work out an extension with Singer, in order to gain some cost certainty over what could quickly become a large price tag if Singer keeps producing front-of-the-rotation numbers.
Between Singer’s performance, arbitration status, and the rising cost of pitching, Kansas City will have to pay handsomely in any extension. However, the price tag will still likely be lower than the cost of extending Witt, even though has only completed one Major League season. The 22-year-old hit .254/.294/.428 with 20 homers and 30 steals (in 37 chances) over 632 plate appearances, amassing 2.3 fWAR and finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. While the defensive metrics didn’t like Witt’s performance at either shortstop or third base last season, the Royals will deploy Witt as their regular shortstop in 2023, and Picollo feels settling in at a single position will improve Witt’s glovework.
Witt entered his rookie season as one of baseball’s top prospects, and has been projected for superstar potential even before the Royals selected him second overall in the 2019 draft. Perez’s four-year, $81MM extension from the 2020-21 offseason is the priciest contract in Royals club history, but it isn’t a reach to say that a Witt extension would far surpass that deal, and possibly resemble Wander Franco’s 11-year, $182MM extension with the Rays.
Nice looking core they have going with Salvy, Singer, Witt, MJ and the Pazmanian Devil
Get them a couple more mid-top tier rotation guys, a bullpen and then we’ll talk
Follow the Braves model. Might work for the Royals.
Don’t do it, Vinnie! You’re going to be the next Freddie Freeman.
It is clear that Alex Anthopoulos has figured out the best way to put a very strong team on the field every year. The core, with the exception of Fried, is signed through at least 2027. It require4s some skill at determining who should be extended well before free agency looms but the risk is worth it. These signings are not the piddling little mini-deals like Jon Singleton, Scott Kingery or Evan White got. but real game changers and so far the Braves haven’t missed.
Lock in the core of that 97 loss team!
Their stats all look mediocre except for Singer.
Youngest position group in baseball. Often had 6 and sometimes 7 rooks in lineup second half of season.
The only younger team was the Guardians, a playoff team. The Cardinals were just 1.2 years older and just had 2 guys over 40 retire. The Royals are bad. Witt’s glove largely offsets his bat. Salvy isn’t a great defensive catcher and his bat isn’t special unless he can catch.
Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia got extensions too.
Sign me young players now. The Royals will be a force again in a few years.
KC fans deserve a winner. Just hard to imagine.
This one belongs to the Reds
Pretty much describes the best approach for a small market club. More teams should follow that example.
The Brave model has everyone excited about it. A couple of extra years basically gets a team that players best production at the lowest cost to anyone. Good for the player too, as his earnings future has a higher base, and if he does stumble down the road he has that in his pocket.
A Boras won’t do that unless he feels his guy will be better served doing that, but that’s a long shot. With the Mets Cohen finally bringing free agency to baseball, teams need to try this stuff. As a Detroit fan I can’t even take solace in how bad they’ll be this year because of lottery. It’s a gamble for teams, but the cost of baseball is going up whether they like it or not.
I disagree with extending young players. 6-7 years of team control is enough, better off waiting it out. Most of these guys are unproven and will be making not much money anyway. All it takes is one injury to make a player ineffective. Just look at these recent young player extention deals like Scott Kingery, Tatis, or even Acunas contract (wasnt the same last year, this is his make or break year from that injury)
This one belongs to the Reds
The dozen year deals are just foolish, but a 6 or 7 year extension is the right one in most cases. A player’s prime is usually between ages 27-32, anything after that is a crapshoot and usually declining abilities except in rare instances. So personally I would extend a guy through those years and take my chances after that. I also would design it so I’m paying more upfront and less on the back end. That way there is more wiggle room to add salary later on when the team is competing.
Sid Bream Speed Demon
Acuna’s deal in 2022 paid him like $10 million. He had a bit of a down year coming off the injury, but he was still better than most, and certainly will prove to be better value than Brandon Nimmo. Uncle Steve spent all that money just so the Mets could choke in October instead of September.
Acuna would of been paid less than 10 million this year without the extention. In regards to Nimmo, he got wayyyyyyyyyy overpaid. He really should of gotten 4 years at a 60 million total. I don’t even like a majority of the moves they made this offseason. Personally, I think that Billy Eppler is the worst GM in baseball
H E Pennypacker
Sid Bream thought he was taking a shot at Mets fans but the joke’s on him. Acuna isn’t even a center fielder so I’m not quite sure about the comparison to begin with. Some people like Sid don’t understand the importance of “cost certainty” for a publicly traded company that is preparing to sell.
Sign Singer. I watched most games 2021. Stat lines (of some) look shoddy, but dem boiz gonna rage this season. Sign the others soon, but Singer has proved he can grow. If you give him a steak, it’ll encourage the other dudes. Vamos~
Chaim Bloom: “Extensions are for fools”
Extend in 2023. Dfa in 2025.
How bout lacy and mozzicato ?? Lol. Oops. Too soon ?
I’d say yes to Witt, Pasquantino, and Singer. From there, Massey after a year of proving. The pitching is all poorly developed – and Melendez looks like another Hunter Dozier to me.
If they do it, the deals should be team friendly and front loaded. Back-loading deals takes away purchase power when these players hit the 28-30 sweet spot.
Motor City Beach Bum
Isn’t Melendez going to replace Salvador Perez eventually? If so, his numbers last year alone look pretty good for a catcher. He is one I would think should be listed with Witt, Singer and Pasquantino for early extensions. Drew Waters has lots to prove still along with all their pitching misses listed.
They have two very good 27 year old catchers in AAA and another they drafted in 2022. Melendez did not catch well in 2022 and spent significant minutes in the OF. His numbers in the OF were not good either.
Meanwhile, his bat was pretty pedestrian – league avg OBP (.313) and well below league batting average (.217). Everyone is looking at the HRs (18) and ignoring the low scoring contributions (57 runs, 62 RBIs). On a team that has struggled to score, Melendez didn’t do much to improve it. He hit the ball hard and that’s about it. He should be a trade candidate – but it’s KC so they’ll probably hold him and he’ll turn into Dozier 2.0.
Motor City Beach Bum
Feel free to trade him to the Tigers. When he hits 30 HRs no one will be complaining.
It’s not “and, presumably, any agents,” it’s “and presumably, any agents.” Hire an editor ffs