1 Star from Each MLB Team Most Likely to Sign a Long-Term Deal
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What do Justin Verlander, Elvis Andrus and Buster Posey have in common?
All three are the most recent MLB players to sign long-term deals with their current club.
There are multiple others around baseball who could sign longer deals as well.
Here's a look at one player from each team who is most likely to sign a long-term deal.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise, and are through Tuesday's games.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy
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Ian Kennedy is a pitcher any team would love to have in their rotation.
But the Arizona Diamondbacks are the ones that get to enjoy his production, which has been good over the last few years.
The right-hander has gone 36-16 with a 3.43 ERA and 385 strikeouts over the last two years.
Kennedy still has two more arbitration years to go, but Arizona would be smart to go ahead and lock him up.
If he mirrors his production over the next two years from the previous two years, Kennedy is going to be a lot more expensive.
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward
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This spot could really go to either Jason Heyward or Justin Upton, but I'll go with Heyward due to him being the hometown guy.
The Atlanta Braves have a Gold Glove outfielder in Heyward, who came into his own during his third year in MLB.
Heyward batted .269 with 27 home runs and 82 RBI last year.
He still has two more arbitration years ahead of him, but the Braves would be smart to go ahead and lock him up as well.
Two more great seasons and the Braves could have to pull a few more dollars out of their pocketbook.
Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis
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Just like the previous two, Chris Davis is still in his arbitration years.
And, like the previous two, the Baltimore Orioles will look to get him into a long-term deal before he hits free agency.
Davis looked great last year batting .270 with 33 home runs and 85 RBI.
He's already started 2013 with a bang, with four home runs and 17 RBI through Tuesday.
While a deal likely won't be conceived until the middle of next season, it's hard to imagine the Orioles letting him walk in 2016.
Boston Red Sox: Jon Lester
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Jon Lester has earned a long-term contract for the Boston Red Sox.
While 2012 was disappointing, Lester had four remarkable years prior to that.
From 2008-11, Lester went 65-32 with a 3.33 ERA and 784 strikeouts.
He seems to have regained that form early in 2013, which bodes well for him when he's a free agent after the season.
With the money that Boston supposedly has, there's no doubt the Red Sox will make a huge offer to Lester in the offseason.
Chicago Cubs: Jeff Samardzija
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Jeff Samardzija saw the chance for his wallet to get a lot bigger when he was moved to the rotation from the bullpen.
The Chicago Cubs starter has had his struggles, but that is more due to pitching in Chicago than his repertoire of pitches.
Samardzija has a 3.73 ERA since becoming a full-time starter and has shown a lot on the mound.
He becomes a free agent in 2016, but like the others, he'll be a lot cheaper if signed to a long-term deal now.
Chicago White Sox: Alejandro De Aza
Alejandro De Aza
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The Chicago White Sox were one of the tougher teams to find a player that deserved a long-term deal, so I went with the potential in Alejandro De Aza.
De Aza, like many others on this list, is still in his arbitration years.
With guys like Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko getting older, the White Sox seem to be going more with finesse over power.
Enter De Aza, who can provide a little power, but gets on base a lot.
In his first full season in 2012, De Aza had a .349 on-base percentage, along with 26 stolen bases.
De Aza may not get a long-term deal this year or next, but the White Sox will want to keep him around if he continues to produce like he is.
Cincinnati Reds: Shin-Soo Choo
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Shin-Soo Choo is thought to be a one-year rental for the Cincinnati Reds.
However, at the rate Choo is producing at the top of the lineup, the Reds will seriously consider signing him to a long-term deal this offseason.
Choo is batting .394 with three home runs and six RBI this year. He's giving the Reds a legitimate leadoff hitter, something they've lacked the last few years.
He'll be 31 next year, which should line him up with at least a four-year deal.
Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera
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Asdrubal Cabrera is more than a year from entering free agency, but the Cleveland Indians will likely look to lock him up this offseason.
Over the last two years, Cabrera has batted .272 with 41 home runs and 160 RBI.
Along with Carlos Santana, Cabrera is becoming the face of the franchise.
And you just don't let the face of the franchise walk in free agency. Especially if they haven't passed 30 yet.
Colorado Rockies: Dexter Fowler
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The best thing the Colorado Rockies did this offseason was hang onto Dexter Fowler.
The subject of trade rumors, Fowler stayed put and is looking good so far this year.
He's currently batting .314 with four home runs and seven RBI. While he's supposed to be the stolen-base guy, Fowler is producing nonetheless.
With free agency coming in 2016, the Rockies still have a few years before they have to think about extending Fowler.
However, it's something they should look into at the end of the 2014 season. They don't want to take a chance of him getting out on the free-agent market and his price going through the roof.
Detroit Tigers: Max Scherzer
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Justin Verlander just got his extension with the Detroit Tigers, so that leaves Max Scherzer as a rotation starter that needs to be locked in.
Scherzer has gone 44-27 with a 3.92 ERA and 596 strikeouts in his three-plus seasons with the Tigers.
With Scott Boras as his agent, the Tigers would be wise to go ahead and work on a deal with him this offseason.
If they don't, they could see Scherzer's services being sold to the highest bidder, which is a known trait of Boras'.
Houston Astros: Bud Norris
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Jose Altuve and Bud Norris are the only players that are worth signing to a long-term deal on the Houston Astros.
Every other player is basically a wait-and-see mainly due to their youth.
I'm going with Norris here because he's a free agent in 2016, while Altuve becomes one in 2018.
At some point, the Astros are going to need a veteran starter in the rotation to bring the young guys along.
That guy should be Norris, who would be great at helping the Astros' resurgence in 2015 or 2016.
Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler
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Forget Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Billy Butler should be signed to a long-term extension by the Kansas City Royals.
One of the more underappreciated hitters in baseball, Butler has a team option in 2015.
While it's likely it will be picked up, the Royals would be smart to add an extension onto that while they can still pay him between $10-12 million a year.
Butler has hit .302 with 48 home runs and 202 RBI over the last two years and is already looking good this year with 10 RBI.
If anyone's earned a long-term extension in Kansas City, it's Butler.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout
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The Los Angeles Angels will no doubt get away with paying Mike Trout chump change this year and next, but he'll eventually be rewarded handsomely.
If the Angels were to do a deal, it likely wouldn't be before the end of next year. However, it's something they need to start thinking about now.
In the same way the Giants rewarded Buster Posey for everything he did in his three years, the Angels will have to do the same for Trout.
Not to mention, he will be cheaper if they sign him to an extension during his arbitration years than if they did once he becomes a free agent.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw
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This is almost a "duh" statement.
Clayton Kershaw is going to get an extension from the Los Angeles Dodgers at some point this season or the offseason.
Kershaw has been dominant since 2011, going 47-13 with a 2.32 ERA and 493 strikeouts.
Many think Justin Verlander's $180-million contract is just a starting point for Kershaw's.
Kershaw will be the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. The only question is, when will the deal get done?
Miami Marlins: Ricky Nolasco
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Like the Astros, there are not many candidates for long-term extensions for the Miami Marlins.
Giancarlo Stanton is one, but it's likely he would never sign one after what the Marlins did this past offseason.
However, Ricky Nolasco is the one player who is deserving of a long-term extension who might actually sign one.
Nolasco is a free agent after this season and is a good veteran to have for the younger pitchers.
He's never going to blow people away with his stuff, but he does have the knowledge to pass onto other pitchers to make them successful over the course of their careers.
But, this again is assuming he would re-sign with the Marlins.
My guess is Stanton isn't the only veteran who will be more than happy to leave town once he becomes a free agent.
Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo
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Yovani Gallardo still has at least one more year left on his deal with the Milwaukee Brewers (two if they pick up his option in 2015).
However, he is the ace of the staff, and the Brewers are going to want to keep him in town.
Over the last three years, Gallardo has gone 47-26 with a 3.67 ERA and 611 strikeouts.
With more than 200 strikeouts over the last three years, Gallardo is the power pitcher everyone wants at the top of their rotation.
He won't make the kind of money Kershaw will, but an average salary between $11-13 million per year shouldn't be out of the question.
Minnesota Twins: Justin Morneau
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Justin Morneau has almost been a forgotten entity for the Minnesota Twins.
Having battled numerous injuries over the last few years, Morneau showed some life last year by batting .267 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI.
Morneau won't get any kind of extension like Joe Mauer did, but there's no reason to believe he can't get a four-year deal worth $14 million per season.
He'll be 33 when he enters free agency after this season and can provide a lot.
The Twins are likely going to want to keep Mauer and Morneau together, so signing him to a long-term deal would be in their best interest.
New York Mets: Ike Davis
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Ike Davis is another player still in his arbitration years, but he's one the New York Mets are going to want to keep around.
Davis will be a free agent in 2017, but after last season's 32 home runs and 90 RBI, the Mets would be wise to sign him to an extension.
They may be able to get away with paying him $3.13 million this year, but that number is only going to go up.
By going ahead and signing him to an extension, the Mets can pay him between $8-10 million a year before he has a chance to improve his batting average and command $14-16 million a year.
New York Yankees: Robinson Cano
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Robinson Cano is going to be the biggest free agent on the market this year and is someone the New York Yankees want to keep in pinstripes.
It is widely believed Cano wants to stay with the Yankees, which brings more clarity with his decision to leave Scott Boras.
While Boras shops you around to the highest bidder, Cano seems to have wanted an agent that will make things work with the Yankees.
A long-term deal will happen, but at what price?
Could we see him reach Alex Rodriguez-type numbers?
Oakland Athletics: Jed Lowrie
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Jed Lowrie may not be a big name people are looking for, but like other castaways, the Oakland Athletics seem to be a perfect fit for him.
So far this year, Lowrie is batting .433 with three home runs and six RBI.
He has one more arbitration year, but I could see the A's signing him to an extension.
He's been cheap in his two arbitration years, with this year's $2.4 million being his highest-paid year.
So, if the A's can get him for between $5-7 million over four or five years, it would be a great move on their part.
Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley
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Chase Utley may be 35 next year, but who else are the Philadelphia Phillies going to sign to a long-term extension?
Utley hasn't played a full year in the last three and doesn't really deserve to be paid at his current rate of $15 million per year. However, he's been loyal to the franchise and they should reward him with a three- or four-year contract.
When healthy, Utley can still produce with the other top second basemen in the game (outside of Robinson Cano).
Being that he's a free agent after this year, something around $8-10 million should suffice to keep him in town.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez
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When Wandy Rodriguez was traded from the Astros to the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was a blessing in disguise.
He went from an organization who had no hope over the next few years to an organization that could make noise this year.
Rodriguez is a free agent after this year and someone the Pirates should really consider keeping in the rotation.
With young stars like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Gole likely to be in the big leagues next year, Rodriguez will be a solid guy for the middle of the rotation.
Another three-year contract for about $10-12 million a year should be good.
San Diego Padres: Chase Headley
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Chase Headley may be injured for the start of the San Diego Padres season, but he is someone the Padres better lock up quick.
Being a free agent in 2015, Headley will get offered much more in free agency than what the Padres could afford.
Like they did with Carlos Quentin, the Padres need to open their pocketbook for Headley.
His 31 home runs and 115 RBI last year showed he was worth it.
San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval
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Originally, Buster Posey would have been listed here for the San Francisco Giants, but he's already gotten his deal.
So that leaves Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval has averaged 112.5 games over the last two seasons, but when healthy, he is a beast.
Game 1 of the 2012 World Series showed that when he hit three home runs.
Sandoval is a free agent in 2015, but is someone the Giants should look at extending this offseason.
If I were a Giants fan, I'd want them to do it before the playoffs, especially if he produces like he did last year.
He'll get a contract of at least $12 million per year...maybe more.
Seattle Mariners: Michael Morse
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The Seattle Mariners did not trade for Michael Morse just so he could be a one-year rental.
Seattle traded for him because it knew he would be a target to be re-signed when he became a free agent after this season.
Morse produced in bunches with Washington, which is why Seattle wanted him.
Already with six home runs this year, Morse is proving it was a smart trade for the Mariners.
Now they would be smart to go ahead and lock him up for the next five years.
St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese
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David Freese is another player with two more years before he hits free agency, but the St. Louis Cardinals will look at extending him within the next year.
As we've seen multiple times in sports, when teams wait to try and sign one of their own when they hit free agency, bad things can happen (see Josh Hamilton).
Freese is no Hamilton, but he was a key member of the team that won the 2011 World Series.
Currently earning $3.15 million is his first arbitration year, Freese likely can be had by the Cardinals (long-term) for about $8-10 million a year.
For what he produced in 2012, I'd say that's worth it.
Tampa Bay Rays: Ben Zobrist
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Ben Zobrist is almost an exact clone of Martin Prado.
He can play anywhere on the field, which is why the Tampa Bay Rays like him.
However, Zobrist has two team options in 2014 and 2015, but will be a free agent after that.
The Rays would be smart to guarantee those two option years and then sign Zobrist for $10 million a year after that.
He's earned that kind of money, and it's equal to what Prado signed with the Diamondbacks.
With more power in his bat than Prado, it's likely Zobrist can earn more, but it's also likely the Rays won't pay more.
Texas Rangers: David Murphy
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David Murphy is almost a forgotten player for the Texas Rangers.
All of the focus seems to go on Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz, but Murphy is a good player in his own right.
Murphy is a free agent after this year and is deserving of some kind of extension.
He's been consistent at the plate the last three years, batting .291 with 38 home runs and 172 RBI.
Murphy will never wow you with his power, but does enough to earn a long-term extension.
The left-handed hitter is making $5.775 million this year and should make about $7-8 million a year on a long-term contract.
Toronto Blue Jays: Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson is an ace...at least that's what we're continually told.
Now with a team that isn't in fire-sale mode every few years, Johnson actually has a chance to succeed with the Toronto Blue Jays.
If he pitched the way he did between 2009-10, Johnson will have earned himself an extension with the Blue Jays.
Toronto has already shown it's not afraid to expand its payroll. And, if Johnson can prove he's worth it, the Blue Jays will spend the money on him as well.
Johnson is more of a wait-and-see before determining his value, but he could earn between $13-15 million per year with a good season in 2013.
Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg
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This one was another flip of the coin.
It was either Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg for the Washington Nationals.
In the end, Strasburg was chosen because he is the most valuable player for the Nationals, as we saw (or didn't see) in last year's playoffs.
Strasburg is a front-of-the-rotation starter for the next 10 years.
He's going to strike out over 200 batters and have a good ERA to go with it.
Over the next year or two, the Nationals are going to have to seriously consider locking him down because Harper will be right behind him.
If they wait too long, he could cost them a pretty penny to re-sign.