“Recently, there has been a flood of extensions around baseball. With the changes in the amateur draft under the new basic agreement, teams feel it’s going to be tougher to get draft picks to the major leagues, so if you have core guys, sign them up. They also feel that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”
SUNDAY BASEBALL NOTES
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / April 15, 2012
Starting a few years ago, the Red Sox began tying up their core players and saved themselves a ton of money.
Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, and last season Clay Buchholz signed long-term deals that took them through their first couple of years of free agency. The Sox also extended Josh Beckett long-term.
But they weren’t able to do it with Jonathan Papelbon, and they have yet to tie up Jacoby Ellsbury, who now becomes the key target for that type of contract, since he is due to be free after 2013.
Ellsbury, who now may miss 6-8 weeks with a shoulder injury, and his agent, Scott Boras, have not been receptive to a longer-term deal the past two offseasons. Boras knows he has the 2011 American League MVP runner-up, a guy who, when healthy, is one of the top players in the game.
From a player’s perspective, you are always taking a chance when you hold off on a long-term deal that will make you a millionaire many times over. You take the chance that injuries could reduce your earning power.
Two years ago, Ellsbury broke five ribs and played in only 18 games. On Friday, he injured his right shoulder trying to break up a double play. He is making $7.9 million this season, so the injury of two years ago hasn’t hurt his earning power. Perhaps this latest one won’t, either.
The Sox could be thinking longer-term with Daniel Bard and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but so far there has been no indication. Andrew Baileywould be another, but, as with Ellsbury, injuries have been a concern.
Some players roll the dice. Pedroia didn’t want to. He watched as Brandon Phillips and Ian Kinsler - second basemen that you could argue are lesser overall players - sign big long-term deals.
Pedroia signed a six-year, $40.5 million deal that will pay him a high of $11 million in 2015 if the Sox pick up the option that year.
Sure, Pedroia could have made more money by holding off, and the Red Sox got a good deal given the player he is, but Pedroia is also satisfied.
As he often says, “I have a lot of money in the bank, I have a beautiful family, and I’m playing baseball. What more do I need?’’
On the other hand, playing it out worked for Papelbon, who got $50 million over four years from the Phillies, and the Red Sox actually helped him because they managed him so well that he didn’t have the wear and tear that many closers have at this stage.
Recently, there has been a flood of extensions around baseball. With the changes in the amateur draft under the new basic agreement, teams feel it’s going to be tougher to get draft picks to the major leagues, so if you have core guys, sign them up. They also feel that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
The Giants tied up Matt Cain, who was scheduled to be a free agent, paying him $127.5 million over six years.
The Reds did it with Joey Votto, who got a 10-year, $225 million deal. They also tied up Phillips for six years, $72 million.
The Rangers gave the 30-year-old Kinsler a five-year, $75 million contract starting in 2013, buying out his free agency.
The Indians tied up catcher Carlos Santana for five years at $21 million. And shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera got a two-year extension through 2014.
The Pirates did likewise with Andrew McCutchen.
The Rays, who did such a great job signing Evan Longoria just a few days into his major league career, have chosen to do the same with lefty phenom Matt Moore.
Longoria’s deal is interesting in that he would be a free agent after the 2014 season, but in that season, he will earn $7.5 million. There are team options the next two seasons at $11.5 million.
If Longoria hit the market after the 2014 season, he would earn a Votto-like contract, likely averaging more than $20 million per season.
Longoria will only be 30 when the contract expires, and he may yet get that big dough anyway. But he’s perfectly satisfied to take less for the security.
The Rays signed Moore to a five-year, $14 million deal, but it contains three options that tie up two of Moore’s free agent years, topping off at $11 million. If Moore pans out like Longoria, it will be a big-time bargain for the Rays. The Rays did similar contracts in the past with David Price and Ben Zobrist.
When the timing doesn’t work out, the player is forced to take one of those famous Boras one-year deals. It helped Adrian Beltre, who got his five-year, $80 million deal from the Rangers a year after the Red Sox rented him for one year at $9 million.
Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees can afford to play things out, though the Sox elected not to get into competition for Papelbon, feeling the price was far too high for a closer.
How will they approach Ellsbury, now that he is injured for the second time in three years?