Every offseason, the biggest news and the most exciting moves are those that involve star players changing teams and earning huge amounts of money in their new contracts. This offseason, that included David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, who all inked deals longer than four years worth more than $20 million per year with new clubs. However, every offseason also sees deals where players who aren’t free agents get new contracts to stay with their own club. Often times, these deals are for young players who are still in the arbitration phase of their careers, and the sole purpose of the new contract is to avoid future arbitration and lock in the player’s rate of pay for one or two years into the future.
Much less often, there are players who get longer deals that go beyond their arbitration years, or extend their deals with the team before they reach free agency. For a player to garner such a reward, they often have to have proven themselves as a reliable contributor to the club and show that they have many years of excellent performance left in them. These deals typically receive a good amount of media attention, but not on the level of the big-name free agents.
This offseason saw four such moves made, with the two latest coming just this week. In November, the San Francisco Giants rewarded shortstop Brandon Crawford‘s efforts with a shiny new six-year deal worth $75 million, buying out his last two arbitration-eligible years and laying claim to his first four free-agency eligible seasons. In January, the Miami Marlins extended a middle infielder of their own, signing second baseman Dee Gordon to a five-year, $50 million deal which covered his three arbitration-eligible seasons and two additional years, including a $14 million team/vesting option for a sixth year in 2021.
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Royals announced a move many had speculated was coming for quite some time, rewarding catcher Salvador Perez with a five-year extension worth $52.5 million, which will come into effect after his current deal expires following the 2016 season. Then on Wednesday it was announced by the St. Louis Cardinals that they had agreed to a five-year pact with second baseman Kolten Wong worth $25.5 million. Like Gordon’s deal, the Cardinals bought out Wong’s three arbitration-eligible seasons and added another two years of free agency, with a $12.5 million team option for a sixth year in 2021.
So, how do these deals stack up against each other? First, let’s take a look at the numbers of each deal, breaking down the year-by-year dollar values for each player, including their age that season in parentheses.
|Year||Brandon Crawford||Dee Gordon||Salvador Perez||Kolten Wong|
|2016||$6M (29)||$3.3M (28)||$2.0M** (26)||$1.25M (25)|
|2017||$8.2M (30)||$7.8M (29)||$4.2M (27)||$2.5M (26)|
|2018||$15.2M (31)||$10.8M (30)||$8.7M (28)||$4.0M (27)|
|2019||$15.2M (32)||$13.3M (31)||$11.2M (29)||$6.5M (28)|
|2020||$15.2M (33)||$13.8M (32)||$14.2M (30)||$10.25M (29)|
|2021||$15.2M (34)||$14.0M* (33)||$14.2M (31)||$12.5M* (30)|
**Remaining value from current contract
As we already knew, it’s notable that Crawford’s deal is the most expensive, Perez’s and Gordon’s are similarly priced, and Wong’s is much cheaper than any of the other three. It’s also notable that every deal increases in value as it goes on, but in somewhat of a different structure. As each deal is discussed individually, the impact of the structure will be considered in evaluating it. Without anymore frivolity, let’s go forth and break down each deal in chronological order.