Fair Contract Extensions for Each Young MLB Star in Line for One

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

Fair Contract Extensions for Each Young MLB Star in Line for One

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    This offseason has seen some huge offers given to players entering their first year of arbitration, as Buster Posey was given $8 million and David Price got $10.1 million.

    As a result of those big first-year deals, those two could be headed for a big extension at some point in the year ahead. They're not the only players currently in arbitration-eligibility who are in line for an extension though.

    Here are my estimates of what a fair contract would be for the top seven young stars who are in line for a extension moving forward.

CF Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers

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    Proposed Extension: six-year, $80 million

    Jackson was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, and he settled with the Tigers on a one-year, $3.5 million deal.

    He won't be a free agent until 2016, but the Tigers would be smart to lock him up soon as it appears he's only going to get better in the years to come.

    As a 25-year-old last season he broke out with a .300/.377/.479 slash line and career highs of 16 home runs and 66 RBI.

SP Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

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    Proposed Extension: four-year, $45 million

    After four years bouncing between the bullpen and rotation, Samardzija settled into a rotation spot last season and enjoyed a breakout year.

    Though his 9-13 record didn't reflect the breakout, he had a 3.81 ERA and 9.3 K/9 over a career-high 174.2 innings of work.

    The Cubs are banking on Samardzija taking another step forward this season and emerging as the ace of the staff. If he does, expect the Cubs to look to lock him up as a key part of their rebuilding efforts.

3B Chase Headley, San Diego Padres

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    Contract Extension: six-year, $90 million

    Going into last season, Headley was a prime candidate to be traded at the deadline. Instead, he broke out in a huge way and enters the 2013 season as a budding star.

    A monster second half gave him a .286 BA, 31 HR, 115 RBI final line, and playing a premium position like third base only adds to his value.

    Headley asked for $10.3 million in arbitration this offseason, and the Padres countered with $7.075 million.

    Ryan Zimmerman signed a six-year, $100 million extension with the Nationals last February, and Headley could certainly use that as a bargaining chip. He may not be able to get quite that much, but he should approach something close.

SP Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds

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    Contract Extension: five-year, $75 million

    The Reds gave up a ton to acquire Latos from the Padres last offseason, so expect them to do everything they can to lock him up.

    Through his age 24 season, Latos is 41-33 with a 3.41 ERA and 8.4 K/9 and he had a terrific first season with Cincinnati going 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA.

    After going 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 16 second half starts, Latos could take a big step forward this season and emerge as the ace of the Reds staff.

RF Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

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    Contract Extension: six-year, $100 million

    After a great rookie season, Heyward suffered through a rough sophomore season in 2011 as he hit just .227 and posted a 2.4 WAR.

    He got back on track last season with a .269 BA, 27 HR, 82 RBI season and 21 steals. He added the first Gold Glove of his career and a 5.5 WAR.

    He got $3.65 million this season in his first year of arbitration-eligibility, and he'll still be only 23 years old this coming season. Heyward should continue to advance towards super stardom in the years ahead and the Braves may want to lock him up soon. 

SP David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Contract Extension: seven-year, $155 million

    The Rays gave Price a $10.1125 million deal to buy out his first year of arbitration eligibility, and it is only a matter of time before he either gets an extension from the Rays or finds himself on the trade block.

    Assuming moderate raises over his final two seasons of arbitration, the Rays would have to buy those seasons out for roughly $30 million.

    After that, expect an annual salary of at least $22.5 million, which is what the Phillies gave Cole Hamels when they extended him last season. I'd expect $25 million annually to be a little more realistic.

C Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

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    Contract Extension: seven-year, $120 million

    After winning NL Rookie of the Year and leading the Giants to a World Series title in 2010, Posey suffered a broken leg in 2011 and there questions about how well he'd bounce back.

    Those questions were quickly answered last season as Posey hit .336 last season, won NL MVP and again led the Giants to a World Series win.

    The Giants gave Posey $8 million in his first year of arbitration, and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently suggested a seven-year, $120 million extension could be reasonable. That seems like a legitimate possibility.