It's pretty common to see teams lock up players to long-term extensions around this time of year. Within the past week, the Cardinals locked Allen Craig up to a five-year, $31MM contract, and the White Sox signed Chris Sale for five years and $32.5MM.
It's particularly common for the Twins, it seems. Since 2008, the Twins have handed out six extensions during Spring Training:
- Joe Nathan, 2008: Four years, $47MM ($12.5MM club option)
- Scott Baker, 2009: Four years, $15.25MM ($9.25MM club option)
- Nick Blackburn, 2010: Four years, $14MM ($8MM club option)
- Denard Span, 2010: Five years, $16.5MM ($9MM club option)
- Joe Mauer, 2010: Eight years, $184MM
- Glen Perkins, 2012: Three years, $10.3MM ($4.5MM club option)
Mauer and Nathan both received mega-deals that didn't really carry any form of discount, as each extension was buying out free agent years instead of arbitration years. The other four signed deals that seem far more reasonable, as each contract bought out at least one pre-arbitration season as well as each player's remaining arb years.
Looking at the Twins' current roster, the only player who really jumps out as even a fringe extension candidate is Scott Diamond. Last week, Alex Kienholz looked at Diamond's likely regression, and I tend to agree with just about everything he said. Whether or not the Twins do, of course, is another story. We don't have insight into anything they're discussing, but we can look past the organization to see if there have been extensions for players in situations similar to Diamond's.
Diamond is represented by Paragon Sports International -- the same agency that represents former White Sox closer and current Blue Jays setup man Sergio Santos. Santos signed a surprising three-year, $8.25MM extension (with three club options) when he had just two years of service time to his name, so Diamond's representatives do have some precedent for approaching this type of deal.
So we know that the Twins typically consider long-term agreements around this time of year, and we know that Diamond's agents aren't opposed to discussing long-term agreements early in their players' careers. But what would a theoretical extension look like?
Extensions for starting pitchers with Diamond's service time (one year, 16 days) are rare but certainly not unheard of. Two left-handed starters who signed such deals in recent years are Brett Anderson (one year, 12 days at the time of his signing) and Cory Luebke (one year, 33 days). Right-hander Wade Davis signed his extension with the Rays when he had one year, 32 days. That trio of extensions ranged from $12MM-$12.6MM, and each contained at least two club options (Davis' contract has three).
Diamond doesn't have the pedigree/Minor League track record that Anderson and Davis had, and he doesn't have the gaudy numbers that Luebke had after his initial season with the Padres (though he does have quite a few more innings). I'd imagine that Diamond could be locked up for something like $525K in 2013, $1MM in 2014, $3MM in 2015 and $4.5MM in 2016. A club option for his final arb year ($6MM with a $1MM buyout) and one free agent year ($9MM with a $2MM buyout) would make sense for the Twins. All in all, he'd be able to make about $24MM over six years, and he'd be guaranteed at least $10MM.
It's probably an unnecessary extension. and really it doesn't seem all that likely. It's more likely that the Twins give serious consideration to locking in his arbitration salaries and trying to get a club option on a free agent year or two if he posts another successful season in 2013. Of course, that will probably cause the price of any long-term guarantee to go up, but that's the type of risk-reward scenario that front offices constantly have to weigh.
Other players I can see as extension candidates in Spring Training 2014 (assuming good performance in 2013) would be Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee and Vance Worley. It seems likely that this will be just the second year since 2008 in which the Twins don't dish out a long-term commitment in Spring Training, but that makes plenty of sense given the current state of their roster.
Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com, MLB.com and RotoAuthority.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve.