Extend Everyone! Really?

In a recent comment thread about extensions, specifically the idea of extended Josiah Gray, one of the comments was that you can’t extend everybody. But no one had suggested extending everyone.

The idea of extending everyone is somewhat amusing and makes for a great debate. Of course, you can’t extend everyone. But you can make multiple extension offers to different players. Some might be accepted; some/most/all will likely be rejected by the player even if offered.

Note: Except as noted, all the comments below were made before any of the Spring Training games.

Republishing this with the miniscule set of Spring Training data added. Feel free to point out mistakes in this summary so it can be updated:

  • Abrams: 5 ABs, 2 Hits, 0 HRs, 0 Ks, 0 BB, 1 SB
  • Gore: 2 IP, 1 Run, 2 Hits, 4 Ks, 0 BB
  • Gray: 2 IP, 0 Runs, 2 Hits, 5 Ks, 0 BB
  • Crews: 5 Abs, 1 Hit, 0 HRs, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 2RBIs, 1 SB
  • House: 8 Abs, 3 Hits, 1 HR, 1 K, 0 BB, 3 RBIs
  • Wood: 9 Abs, 4 Hits, 2 HRs, 1 K, 3 BB, 4 RBIs

And just in case anyone wants to suggest a Robert Hassell extension:

  • Hassell: 8 Abs, 4 Hits, 1 HR, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 3 RBIs, 2 SB

The Pirates extended Mitch Keller who was recently extended for 5 years and $77M which covers 2 arbitration years and 3 FA years. Josiah Gray is not at the same point in his team control and would not cost that much — but that is the Nats closest comparable.

The Royals extended Bobby Witt for 11 years (lots of wrinkles and options) and $288.78M after just 2 years at the MLB level. Like it or not, that probably made a CJ Abrams extension a lot more expensive — even if they are not on the same level. That was a hot discussion item back in 2022 as to whether that was the right time to do. In hindsight, there was more risk but more reward if it was done then.

Perhaps the most surprising was the Brewers extending 19 year old, Jackson Chourio, before he EVER appeared in an MLB game. Reportedly for 8 years $82M guaranteed with two club options. Chourio’s deal could pave the way for the Nats doing that with one of their top prospects.

The key to extensions, IMO, is balancing the risk by both the player and the team. The player’s risk is that he excels in the near term so that he could have gotten more by waiting, including free agency; the team’s risk is they pay too much if the player does not meet minimum expectations. It is a complex balancing act to come up with the years and dollars that are acceptable risks to both sides.

Let’s take Keibert Ruiz as an example. It is fair to say that the 8 year, $50M extension was perhaps team friendly. From my perspective I have to think that the injury he suffered at the end of the year before agreeing to an extension had a large impact on his evaluation of the risk of not signing.

There has been more than a little discussion of extending CJ. The most common reason folks cite to not do it is he hasn’t earned it yet. But once he’s earned it, it is probably too late. As mentioned above, the key is balancing the risk/reward on both sides.

“You’ve got to figure out a way to sign your players and make them want to be here. Like: ‘Everything’s so good here, why would I go anywhere else?’ That’s the goal.”

“Obviously, you have to fairly compensate them. I’m not saying you should just get everyone for cheap — and they should sign these deals. But you want to create an atmosphere and an environment where they want to stay. I’m not saying we haven’t done that, but it is one of my goals to look around and see what that’s like.”

“You can always get better at that stuff, and obviously other teams are doing it really well. If you want to keep guys and have teams that are good for a long time, you have to do it that way. There’s no way to let these guys have three good years and then try to sign them. It’s just impossible. You have to be proactive and create an environment where they want to stay. Try and do it early. It’s the only way to do it, and the only way to sustain it.”

Ryan Zimmerman said after Mark Lerner announced that the team was not being sold

We got the opinions of a few folks on three players with MLB time (i.e., Abrams, Gray, Gore); and three who have yet to appear in an MLB game (Crews, House, Wood).

So lets go!

The MLB Players

CJ Abrams

Don: I’m going to use Trea Turner as a benchmark for the high-end. Both he and CJ were/are super 2 players. Trea got roughly 153M for his 1 pre-arb year, 4 arbitration years and first 4 FA years. I am also going to adjust for inflation over the last 5 years – say 3% a year as a blue sky number. Compounding that for 5 years. gives you a bit less than $180M. My starting point in the negotiations is 8/$90M and might go as high as 8/$120M as I feel comfortable that he will be at least half the player Trea was and maybe even more.

Andrew: Last year an 8 year $80 million deal with options to get it over $100 million sounded like a deal that Abrams would jump at. Now, his value has skyrocketed. I think 8 years and $120 million sounds right. You snooze you lose.

Draz: He is 23 years old until October and is getting better and better. He is controllable through 2028. Probably worth $55MM for the 5 controllable years and then around $20MM per year thereafter. I’d offer him 10 years, $175MM.

Sao: Extending Abrams makes sense for where we are right now in the rebuild and the quality of play he’s shown to date. We need a middle infielder, whether he ultimately sticks at shortstop or second base, and he’s got the toolset he needs to succeed in this league for many years to come. I don’t think I’d offer as rich a deal as Draz suggests, but 8/120M isn’t unreasonable at this point. I’d try for closer to 8/100M.

Steve: You know where I stand on Abrams. I was ready to do this prior to the 2023 season. He just got a lot more expensive. His poor April of 2023 had some of you all laughing at my suggestion of extending him, but as they say wait for the weather warm up and Abrams second half was All-Star quality. What he did in his age-22 season put him in rare air for power and speed with Trout, Cedeno, and Corbin Carroll. Expand it a little more and you add ARod and others.

MacKenzie Gore

Don: I’m inclined to use the Keller extension as a benchmark. Keller is a bit better now. But who knows after Gore has another year or two of MLB experience. I would want at least 3 FA years, just like Keller. Gore has 3 years of team control remaining after this year. Keller got 5/77. I would start with 7/80 or there-abouts. Even if he tops out as a #4 or #5, there are lots of FA SPs these days who are 4s/5s signing for $10M+.

Draz: Turns 25 this week and is controllable 4 seasons through 2027. Figure he gets $40MM for the 4 controllable years and then another $15-20MM per year if he’s a #3 starter. I’d offer him 7 years and $100MM.

Steve: I would wait on Gore for after this season but keep in mind — he is a BORAS guy. Chance of him signing an extension would have to be done now and that is a risk. Once he shows he is a star he won’t extend.

Andrew: Boras client. Offer it now and see what happens. I agree that this will not get done next year because you are up against his arb years.

Sao: I’m really not sure it’s worth having a long conversation about extending one of Scott Boras’ clients, and anyway, I’d rather see what Gore has in 2024 before committing big money to him.

Josiah Gray

Don: Just like for Gore I see Keller’s extension as the benchmark. I would want at least 3 FA years, just like Keller. Gray has 3 arbitration years coming up after this season. Keller got 5/77. I would start with 7/75 or there-abouts since Gray probably does not have the same upside as Gore.

Andrew: I’m not sold on Gray and I’m not sold on Gore either and the difference is their agents. You can afford to wait for after this season on Gray to see what he is.

Draz: He is 26 years old all season and also controllable through 2027. I’d offer him 6 years and $80MM. He doesn’t have the upside, but I think he’s at worst a #4 starter and a good citizen.

Steve: I’m not sure if Gray is a #2 like his ERA says or just a #4 like his FIP says that he is just getting away with extreme luck. I wouldn’t spend that much to extend him.

Sao: I’d consider 6/80M here, but I’m not really in a rush to lock up Gray.

The Kids

Dylan Crews

Draz: Turns 22 this week. Face of the Franchise going forward. I want at least 10 years. Offer him 12 years, $200MM. Knock his socks off and make him sign now.

Andrew: I am with you Draz. Go big or go home. On top of that, just put some $40 million a year team options to show him he can earn over $300 million.

Don: I like the aggressive approach Draz. However, I might wait until he debuts and then maybe offer 10/$180M to start – which still gives him FA status in his early 30s. But I gladly give him more years/dollars.

Steve: A top leader.

Sao: Another Boras client I don’t realistically see us extending at this point. Boras counsels all his clients to bet on themselves, and I don’t know why Crews wouldn’t.

Brady House

Draz: Holding on a contract offer for Brady. Let’s see if his back can hold up all season and he’s most likely not going to spend time on the roster much this year anyway.

Andrew: I have to see more from House. No rush. That could change quickly of course. We can revisit this in 4 1/2 months at the All-Star break?

Don: I am higher on Brady than many. If he has a great spring training, I add him to the Opening Day roster and think about 12 years and $120M.

Steve: I see star power with House. His easy swing and ability to go oppo is what makes him a player beyond his age.

Sao: I’m high on House, but I don’t see us coming to terms here on an extension for a whole bunch of reasons.

James Wood

Draz: 21 years old. Oozing with potential, but his laid back personality gives me a little concern. I’d offer him 8 years, $100MM and would consider going up from there if he’s willing to commit to the franchise.

Don: I want more than 2 FA years. I do 10/$120.

Andrew: I am with you Don. You have to go long enough for a benefit to the team, otherwise you get your 6+ years and getting him only for 2 more years.

Draz: Update after second ST game: James Wood had one of the greatest spring training debuts of all time this weekend. 10 years, $150MM and negotiate from there. Lock him up.

Steve: his comp was Aaron Judge and even more athletic. But I don’t see Boras agreeing to an extension.

Sao: I’d love to make Wood a National for a long time, but that just is not the game we play with our favorite super-agent.

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