by Jason Martinez
Player A, who is a first baseman, hit .298 with 31 HR, 101 RBI, 33 2B, 93 BB, and 114 K as a 28 year-old in 2010. Before the following season, he was traded to a team who could afford the eventual 7 year, $154M contract extension he signed before his 29th birthday.
Player B, who is a 28 year-old third baseman playing in the same home stadium as Player A did, is hitting .287 with 26 HR, 98 RBI, 25 2B, 69 BB, 137 K, and 14 SB with 23 games left in the season. He can become a free agent after the 2014 season. Despite a more consistent track record of these types of numbers from Player A, wouldn't player B still be in line for a similar deal at this rate?
|Headley is going to be a very rich man|
Picture courtesy of US Presswire
There is no one playing better baseball right now than Player B, who is Padres third baseman Chase Headley, one of the few core players the team hasn't signed to a long-term extension during the past year (Cameron Maybin, Cory Luebke, Carlos Quentin, and Huston Street have each signed extensions). In fact, he is the best player on one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. If not for the Padres' horrid start, which has put them too far out to even think of a playoff spot, Headley would be a serious MVP candidate. Player A is former Padres star Adrian Gonzalez, who is now playing for the division rival Dodgers.
What does this all mean for the Padres, who despite having new ownership committed to raising the payroll, are likely can't afford a player who makes $15M-plus per season? Up until a few months ago, Headley was considered a good all-around third baseman who was never going to be a star. Five years and $45 million might have been enough to keep the former 2nd Round pick in San Diego through his prime. Now, all you have to do is compare Headley's numbers to Gonzalez's to know that deal ain't happening.
On the bright side, the Padres can still keep their emerging star third baseman at a fairly reasonable salary -- he's eligible for arbitration after the next two seasons -- and they have a good backup plan in place with prospect Jedd Gyorko. It's still worth asking: how much would it cost the Padres to extend Headley before next season? Keep in mind that they'd be buying out his final two arbitration years and would likely have to offer at least five years, which would keep him through his 33rd birthday.