The all of a sudden big-spending Kansas City Royals locked up their franchise participant Monday. The Royals and shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. agreed to a 11-year, $288.7 million extension that can max out at 14 years and $377.7 million. It’s far and away the biggest contract in franchise historical past, greater than tripling Salvador Perez’s four-year, $82 million deal.
Extending Witt is the newest transfer in a busy offseason that has additionally seen the Royals signal free brokers Adam Frazier, Seth Lugo, Hunter Renfroe, and Michael Wacha, amongst others. The AL Central could be very winnable. These additions mixed with just a few different issues breaking proper could put Kansas City right in the thick of the division race this summer.
Witt’s extension figures to be the primary of many this spring. Typically talking, February and March are extension season. Groups use November, December, and January to improve their rosters, then give attention to conserving their very own gamers in February and March. Witt’s extension will possible be the biggest signed this spring, although it’s going to absolutely not be the final.
With that in thoughts, listed below are 10 younger gamers who might be subsequent in line for a long-term extension. We’ll restrict this train to gamers who’re at the least 4 years away from free company, that means guys like Juan Soto (free agent after 2024) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (free agent after 2025) don’t qualify. Let’s get to the extension candidates.
Final season, Alvarez turned the primary rookie catcher to swat 25 dwelling runs since Wilin Rosario hit 28 with the help of Coors Subject in 2012. Alvarez was solely the second 21-year-old catcher with a 25-homer season in any respect, becoming a member of Corridor of Famer Johnny Bench (26 homers in 1969). For sure, he’s a particular expertise and a foundational participant for the Mets. Locking him up figures to be a prime precedence for brand spanking new baseball operations head honcho David Stearns. Alvarez is 5 years away from free company.
Evan Carter, Rangers
Josh Jung, Rangers
We may even embody Wyatt Langford right here. Langford, like Carter, is one of the game’s elite prospects, In contrast to Carter, Langford has but to make his MLB debut, not that that disqualifies him as an extension candidate. Carter performed such an enormous position final October because the Rangers received their first World Sequence title. He is so spectacular. So is Jung, the membership’s beginning third baseman. Carter remains to be six years away from free company. Jung is 5 years away. Signing these two (and Langford?) could be sensible enterprise.
There’s not an entire lot going proper for the Crimson Sox lately, although Casas has emerged as a center of the order power and a constructing block for Boston. The third-place vote-getter within the AL Rookie of the Yr voting clubbed 24 dwelling runs final season regardless of a sluggish first half that noticed him go deep solely 9 instances with a .728 OPS. Casas adopted that up with 15 homers and a 1.034 OPS after the All-Star break. He’s 5 years away from free company.
I am undecided there is a extra thrilling participant within the recreation as we speak. You possibly can’t take your eyes off De La Cruz. Granted, being an thrilling participant doesn’t equal being a productive participant — he mustered solely a .710 OPS amid the hype final 12 months — however De La Cruz is so clearly gifted. His ceiling is sky excessive and the Reds will need to get him locked up earlier than he breaks out, and the worth goes up considerably. De La Cruz has to attend one other six seasons to change into a free agent. Different younger Reds like Andrew Abbott and Matt McLain are extension candidates too.
Gunnar Henderson, Orioles
Adley Rutschman, Orioles
The 101-win O’s don’t have any scarcity of extension candidates. Along with Henderson and Rutschman, there’s additionally righty Grayson Rodriguez, outfielders Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad, infielder Jordan Westburg, and prime prospect Jackson Holliday. We’ll give attention to Henderson, the reigning AL Rookie of the Yr, and Rutschman, the switch-hitting franchise catcher. Rutschman is 4 years away from free company and the extra pressing matter, particularly given his ultra-rare ability set. Henderson is 5 years away from free company. With a new ownership group incoming, locking up these two figures to be the O’s prime precedence.
Extending younger pitchers is at all times a bit dicey as a result of there’s a lot inherent harm threat, however Kirby’s command-centric method makes him a wonderful guess to age effectively so long as he stays wholesome. The 26-year-old has pitched at one thing very near an ace stage since making his MLB debut in Might 2022, and he is an essential a part of the core making an attempt to carry the primary ever World Sequence championship to Seattle. Kirby remains to be 5 years away from free company.
One 12 months later, the Daulton Varsho for Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. commerce appears like a steal for the Dbacks. Moreno had a really robust rookie season final 12 months and he shined within the postseason because of his precocious bat-to-ball skill. Good younger catchers are extraordinarily useful and at all times price locking up. Once you discover a good one behind the plate, you retain him. Moreno is 5 years away from hitting the open market. Now’s nearly as good a time as ever for Arizona to lock him up.
The Pirates chosen Skenes with the No. 1 choose within the draft simply final summer season. Would they take into account extending him earlier than he makes his MLB debut? Why not. Pre-MLB debut extensions are becoming more common, and the way else are the Pirates supposed to maintain a pitcher who initiatives to be an ace? The Royals took an opportunity and prolonged Witt as a result of it’s their solely strategy to maintain a high-end expertise. Providing Skenes an extension now could also be Pittsburgh’s solely strategy to maintain him past his traditional six years of management.