In the final weeks of spring training this year, there has been quite a bit of buzz regarding contract extensions around the league. That news has peaked over the last couple of days as the Tigers signed two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera to a record-setting 10 year/$292MM contract while the Angels signed two-time MVP snub Mike Trout to a 6 year/$144MM contract. A few weeks before those nine-figure deals started being handed out, however, there was an even more intriguing deal on the table: the potential 7 year/$23MM contract extension of Astros’ prospect George Springer.
Springer has never even played in the majors, but aside from that little tidbit, he has quite a bit in common with Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts. Both are blue-chip prospects– Baseball America ranks Bogaerts #2 and Springer #18 in all of baseball– and project to see significant time in the majors in 2014. Their respective franchises expect both players to soon materialize into middle-of-the-order fixtures and perennial MVP candidates, and so with free agent contracts ballooning, why not try and lock the players up before the allure of the open market becomes a legitimate concern?
Springer actually declined that contract extension, but the mere proposition of the extension is an intriguing suggestion for both parties. If the player develops as hoped, then the team gets a very team-friendly deal and buys out a year of free agency. If the player busts, however, the player gets a hefty salary for several years and has ample financial assets for his life after baseball.
That’s why the Red Sox should take a similar approach towards extending Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts saw a bit of major league action towards the end of last season, slashing .250/.320/.364 as well as slashing .296/.412/.481 in the postseason. He has not only the phenomenal raw tools, but also the approach and demeanor necessary to succeed at the major league level. It’s easy to see him becoming an above-average major league regular as soon as 2014, and he should soon develop into so much more than that.
It would be ideal to wait until at least the end of the 2014 season to commit a long term contract to Bogaerts, even if it was more expensive. However, it seems reasonable that the Red Sox and Bogaerts could work out a deal that is beneficial to both sides. And if the Red Sox want that deal to be even more reasonable, then they had better act fast. It doesn’t have to be now. It doesn’t even have to be next year, but it would be a welcome sight to see the Red Sox lock up Bogaerts for a good, long while before the value of that contract is enough to cripple the Red Sox for a good, long while.