Last week the Chicago White Sox gave shortstop Tim Anderson a six-year, $25 million extension, with two club option years that would double that amount. It was the largest amount given to a player with less than a year of service time.
On its face this looks like a relatively low-risk, high upside deal for Chicago. Anderson’s been one of their best prospects since being drafted and was ranked 45th on ESPN’s Keith Law’s 2016 top-100 list. If Anderson reaches his ceiling, or comes close, this is a major win for Chicago. If he sucks, well, $25 million over six years isn’t going to wreck your payroll.
The Padres have more than a few guys on the roster with exciting ceilings, some even more highly rated than Anderson was. It’s smart for any organization to try and lock up young talent as early possible, but it should be even more of an emphasis for the Padres, who are never going to rank in the top half of MLB payroll.
The Padres have been burned in the past with this strategy (RIP Corey Luebke), but bad results shouldn’t discourage good process. Fortunately for us, AJ Preller is an extremely smart dude, and I doubt any previous organizational failings in this area would prevent him from pursuing an extension for his one of his young players.
Here are a few guys I think the Padres should look to extend:
Maybe the best prospect the Padres have had since Anthony Rizzo (I’M SORRY), Margot’s been ranked consistently high the last two years on every prospect list that matters. Plus hit, defense, and speed tools also make him a fairly safe prospect, giving him a rare combination of high ceiling and high floor.
Travis Jankowski is a nice player, and I think an outfield with him in left and Margot in center would be tremendous defense porn. Using Anderson’s contract as a barometer, I think something like a five-year, $20 million deal with three club option years at $15 million, $20 million, and $25 million, respectively. The full value of the deal could potentially be eight-years, $80 million.
Remember when Hedges was drafted and everyone said he if learned to hit he’d be reeeeeeeeally good? Well, Hedges learned to hit. Don’t talk to me about inflated Triple-A stats or how El Paso is a great place to hit and blah blah blah. I don’t care. There’s more than enough evidence that Hedges’ power potential is very real. An 80 defender at catcher with 25-30 HR ceiling? That’s a Famer, y’all.
One other thing working in Hedges’ favor is the lack of catching prospects behind him. Austin Allen was very good last year (.320/.364/.425) at Fort Wayne last year, but he was old for the level and isn’t a sure thing to stay at catcher. Luis Torrens is a Rule 5 pick and may not last the year. Christian Bethancourt isn’t a catcher anymore. Locking up Hedges makes too much sense.
I’d go six-years, $30 million, with two club option years at $12.5 million and $15 million, respectively. That’s eight-years, $57.5 million at full value.
Spang has always been one of my favorites for reasons I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s the combination of speed, defense, and athleticism. Maybe it’s because he’s a Jed Hoyer draft pick (I’M SORRY, AGAIN). I don’t know. But I know I dig the skill-set and pedigree.
At first glance, Spang doesn’t seem like an ideal extension candidate; far from it. He’s never healthy; he’s played in just 142 games the last three years. The Padres have second basemen coming out of their ears. Say what you will about Ryan Schimpf and Carlos Asuaje, but at least those guys have stayed healthy and performed when given the opportunity. And I haven’t even mentioned the team’s best hitting prospect, Luis Urias.
So, why extend Spang? He’s easily got the highest ceiling of all the MLB-ready options. He’s the best defender and baserunner of the group, and he’s got a long enough track record going back to minors that shows he can hit and get on base. He’s also defensively versatile. Not Alexi Amarista versatile, like, actually versatile. He’s got the range and arm for third base, and I could see him settling into a super utility role once Urias is ready.
So, what could a deal look like for Spang? His injury history would make significantly cheaper than the previous two. I’d give him a four-year, $15 million with a pair of club option year at $10 million each.