Last May, I posted a piece regarding a Jonah Keri appearance on The Darren Smith Show where Keri talked about how he would, at that moment, call up Jedd Gyorko‘s agent and buy him out through the age of 31. That would buy out all of his arbitration years, plus one. At that time we were discussing the concept, Gyorko had 3 home runs and a .697 OPS. He went on to hit 20 more home runs, field a competent second base, and finished 6th in National League Rookie of the Year voting…one spot behind Julio Teheran, who the Atlanta Braves just signed to a 6-year, $32.4M extension (with an option for a 7th year).
On June 24, 2013, Josh Byrnes was on The World Of Sports with Chris Ello and Ben Higgins, where he was asked about extending Gyorko. He described it as a “win-win contract model”, but we haven’t heard a whole lot about the subject since then. Are they gun shy? The situations with both Cory Luebke and Cameron Maybin have gotten worse since we last spoke on this subject, but both signings were still good process. I would argue that they’re great examples of why this type of deal makes sense, as when you look at the money “lost” ($4M for both last year, $3M for Luebke this year) it’s still a relatively inexpensive gamble.
The Braves also locked up closer Craig Kimbrel and gave first baseman Freddie Freeman the largest contract in team history. I don’t like to use the Braves as an example for much (scratch that. They’re just fine, outside of the chop and tough guy routine), but striking early on promise (Teheran/Gyorko) and locking up your homegrown talent (Freeman/Headley) is exactly what we’ve been talking about around here. Being that Kimbrel is 25 and Freeman 24, both entering their 4th season, they’re also an example of why the Padres should avoid dragging their feet if at all possible.
For now, let’s give Byrnes the benefit of the doubt. Spring Training is a fun time filled with cacti, back fields, radar guns, alcohol, prop bets, and announcing contract extensions. Opening Day (err, night. The first one. The real one.) is 41 days away, which is plenty of time to get the situation squared away and announced. If not, then I think we need some answers. Baseball is flush with money, but the Padres aren’t the only guys getting fat new TV contracts and Gyorko’s only going to get more expensive. The “win-win” contract model is perfect for a team like the Padres, and more so if you’re General Upgrades.
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