Predicting Each MLB Team's Next Big Contract

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterApril 3, 2019

Predicting Each MLB Team's Next Big Contract

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    It will soon be time for the New York Yankees to pay Aaron Judge what he's worth.
    It will soon be time for the New York Yankees to pay Aaron Judge what he's worth.Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    If the last few weeks are any indication, the next big Major League Baseball contract is imminent.

    Since late February, superstars Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, Xander Bogaerts and Ronald Acuna Jr. have signed nine-figure deals. Aces Justin Verlander, Blake Snell and Kyle Hendricks and youngsters Brandon Lowe and Eloy Jimenez have inked smaller yet still significant pacts.

    It's hard not to wonder who else is due, so we indulged ourselves by pondering the top possibility for each MLB team's next big contract.

    We've taken a relative approach to the term "big" by allowing it to cover both long-term megadeals for established superstars and less lucrative multiyear contracts for lesser stars and young up-and-comers. There are a few free-agent fits here and there, but the list is mostly made up of extension candidates.

    We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Archie Bradley

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The Arizona Diamondbacks are stuck with Zack Greinke's $206.5 million contract through 2021. In the meantime, they seem to be teetering on the edge of a full-on rebuild.

    This is another way of saying the D-backs may not be big spenders any time soon. But if they have a sizable deal somewhere in their near future, it'll probably be for Archie Bradley.

    The right-hander doesn't save many games, but he's a prototypical modern relief pitcher. He throws in the mid-to-high 90s and can get more than three outs if the occasion calls for it.

    To secure Bradley, who's 26 and controlled through 2021, Arizona might have to at least match the three-year, $19.8 million contract Brad Hand signed with the San Diego Padres in 2018. Should the Diamondbacks indeed begin to rebuild, such a pact would be easily tradeable.

    Best Guess: 4 Years, $28 Million

Atlanta Braves: Zack Wheeler

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Now that the Atlanta Braves have locked down Ronald Acuna Jr. through as far as 2028, fellow young star Ozzie Albies could be next. But they first may have to make a big addition to their pitching staff.

    Though the Braves aren't short on young pitching talent, they should have been in the market for a top-of-the-rotation starter this past winter. If their failure to sign one comes back to bite them this season, they'll presumably aim to correct their mistake with a big splash on the 2019-20 market.

    Madison Bumgarner or Zack Wheeler would fit better in Atlanta's price range than Gerrit Cole. And Wheeler is a Georgia native who'd offer familiarity with the National League East and stuff that's only now coming into its prime.

    The 28-year-old would be equal parts established starter and upside play, so Nathan Eovaldi's four-year, $68 million contract with the Boston Red Sox could provide a relevant framework.

    Best Guess: 4 Years, $75 Million

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays

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    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Fresh off a 115-loss season, the Baltimore Orioles face a long road back. They need to worry about rebuilding their farm system before they can think about extending their own guys or paying for outside help.

    But if the Orioles do pay up for someone in the near future, look no further than Austin Hays.

    The 23-year-old broke into the majors in 2017 following a .958 OPS and 32 home runs in the minors. If he gets back on that track after an injury-marred 2018 campaign, he could emerge as a bright spot worth locking down well beyond 2019.

    Odubel Herrera and Stephen Piscotty are two 20-something outfielders who recently signed extensions before reaching arbitration, and both landed in the $30 million range. Hays might ultimately wind up there, too.

    Best Guess: 5 Years, $32 Million

Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox finalized a six-year, $120 million extension Monday. Just like that, the Red Sox have locked up Bogaerts and Chris Sale in rapid succession.

    If all goes well, they'll also get reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts to agree to a megadeal before he becomes a free agent following the 2020 season.

    Will that happen? We'll say yes, but we'll also say it won't be Boston's next big move. 

    The Red Sox will feel a greater sense of urgency with J.D. Martinez, who can opt out of the final three years and $62.5 million remaining on his contract after this season. Whether he does or doesn't opt out, the Red Sox might entice him to stick around by tacking on an extra year with a high salary.

    Best Guess: 4 Years, $100 Million

Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant

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    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    The Chicago Cubs have some money coming off their books after 2019. But rather than invest it in free agency, they might want to keep it in-house.

    They've already extended Kyle Hendricks, yet they still have Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber to worry about. Each is ticketed for free agency after 2021.

    Bryant, 27, figures to be the hardest one to extend, but he'll also be the Cubs' top priority next winter if his 2019 form resembles his MVP-caliber play from 2015, 2016 and 2017. In terms of Baseball Reference's wins above replacement, no player in the National League was better across those three seasons.

    According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Bryant responded to Nolan Arenado's seven-year, $234 million extension with the Colorado Rockies by saying, "[It's] nice to see another third baseman sign for that much."

    If the Cubs take the hint, Bryant could end up signing a similar deal.

    Best Guess: 7 Years, $230 Million

Chicago White Sox: Yasiel Puig

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Even after securing Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez for the long haul, the Chicago White Sox still have plenty of room in their long-term books for additional splashes.

    Had Chicago's interest in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper led to anything, the White Sox wouldn't have as much space. However, they can make up for not landing them with a big signing on the 2019-20 market.

    Yasiel Puig could be just the guy. The 28-year-old will be a rare offensive star on next winter's market, and he'd fit with the South Siders in two ways: as an everyday slugger in right field and as the latest in a long line of Cuban-born stars.

    If playing regularly at Great American Ball Park allows Puig to enter free agency with a bang, he could do at least as well as Dexter Fowler ($82.5 million) and perhaps as well as Justin Upton ($106 million).

    Best Guess: 5 Years, $100 Million

Cincinnati Reds: Luis Castillo

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Sonny Gray, Tucker Barnhart and Raisel Iglesias can all attest to how the Cincinnati Reds dig giving out extensions. 

    Is Luis Castillo next?

    The 26-year-old righty has had his ups and downs since he arrived in the majors in 2017, yet he has more ace potential than any of his current Reds peers. He needs only to harness the full power of his mid-to-high 90s fastball and devastating changeup.

    If Castillo can do so in 2019, the Reds will surely scramble to sign him to a team-friendly deal before he reaches arbitration in 2021. To this end, the five-year, $50 million extension Blake Snell signed with the Tampa Bay Rays would be the pie-in-the-sky scenario for Castillo.

    He likely wouldn't reach it, but he might come close.

    Best Guess: 5 Years, $40 Million

Cleveland Indians: Shane Bieber

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Francisco Lindor is inching closer to free agency after 2021, yet it doesn't sound like the Cleveland Indians plan to pay the superstar shortstop what he's worth.

    "Enjoy him," team owner Paul Dolan told Zack Meisel of The Athletic. "We control him for three more years. Enjoy him and then we’ll see what happens."

    Though Cleveland might have room for a Lindor megadeal, signing a rising star to a club-friendly deal well before he reaches arbitration seems more likely.

    At the moment, Shane Bieber is the top candidate. After showing potential as a rookie in 2018, the 23-year-old could be headed toward a breakout campaign in 2019.

    If Bieber indeed breaks out, the Indians might maneuver to sign him to a six-year deal similar to Julio Teheran ($32.4 million) or Chris Archer's ($25.5 million).

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $30 Million

Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Nolan Arenado is the latest Colorado Rockies hitter who chose to stick around rather than test the open market. Before him, there was Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.

    Trevor Story could follow in their footsteps.

    The 26-year-old shortstop was a minor sensation when he debuted back in 2016, and he blossomed into a star last year. He finished the 2018 season with a .914 OPS, 37 homers, 27 stolen bases and 5.6 WAR.

    Story can hit the open market after 2021, but that approach could be risky. He might be sharing the shortstop market with Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, who wouldn't have a possible Coors Field penalty to worry about.

    Extension talks may not heat up until after 2019. But at that point, Story might point to Xander Bogaerts' six-year, $120 million deal as a precedent and cash in accordingly.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $115 Million

Detroit Tigers: Carlos Correa

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    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    The Detroit Tigers have lost 196 games over the last two seasons, and 2019 may not be any better.

    On the bright side, it shouldn't be long before the Tigers begin harvesting from MLB's No. 11 farm system. Not long after that, they should start spending again.

    In that case, the Tigers could have interest in one of the superstar shortstops slated to hit the 2021-22 market. Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa are the most likely to be available, and the latter could be Detroit's guy because of his World Series experience and humongous upside.

    Since he'll be coming off his age-26 season, Correa may not be willing to settle for much less than the 10-year, $300 million contract Manny Machado got from the San Diego Padres. With only Miguel Cabrera's deal to worry about by then, the Tigers may be more than willing to oblige.

    Best Guess: 9 Years, $270 Million

Houston Astros: George Springer

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    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    The Houston Astros might keep Carlos Correa around if they're willing to pony up for him like they've recently done with Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Justin Verlander.

    But since Correa may prefer to chase Manny Machado-esque money on the 2021-22 market, the Astros might have better luck with retaining George Springer.

    The star outfielder is set to become a free agent after 2020, and his All-Star track record and stellar postseason resume would be conducive to a huge payday. But because of his age (29) and somewhat spotty injury history, he also has some incentive to negotiate an extension with the Astros.

    If talks between Springer and the Astros heat up after 2019, he would presumably want a better version of Charlie Blackmon's five-year, $94 million extension with the Colorado Rockies. That might be just fine with the Astros.

    Best Guess: 7 Years, $140 Million

Kansas City Royals: Adalberto Mondesi

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Royals have plenty of work to do following their 104-loss campaign in 2018, but the Whit Merrifield extension signaled they're going to try to rebuild with some dignity.

    Adalberto Mondesi must be involved in that effort.

    The 23-year-old shortstop might best be known as Raul's son and as the first player ever to make his major league debut in the World Series. However, he's also fresh off teasing superstar potential by way of an .804 OPS, 14 homers, 32 steals and 3.1 WAR in only 75 games last season.

    Mondesi isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021, but the Royals may move swiftly to lock him up next winter if he keeps rising as a star this season. The five-year, $25.8 million contract Jorge Polanco signed with the Minnesota Twins in February might be a baseline for Mondesi's next deal.

    Best Guess: 5 Years, $35 million

Los Angeles Angels: Gerrit Cole

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    It'll be a long time before the Los Angeles Angels hand out a contract bigger than the 10-year, $360 million extension they gave to Mike Trout in March.

    The Angels could turn to Shohei Ohtani next, but likely not before they know how well the slugger/ace has recovered from his 2018 Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, it would behoove them to seek out a tried-and-true ace to lead their rotation for the foreseeable future.

    At this rate, Gerrit Cole is going to be the top option on the 2019-20 market. 

    Cole, who's fresh off breaking out with a 2.88 ERA and 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018, will enter free agency off his age-28 season. He'll therefore presumably want at least Patrick Corbin-esque money (six years, $140 million), which the Angels should be able to afford thanks to some expiring contracts.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $150 Million

Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    In the near future, the Los Angeles Dodgers will have to weigh contract extensions for Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler.

    Seager is the most pressing case of the three, as his free agency is looming after the 2021 season. But since his recent injury problems—e.g., Tommy John and hip surgeries—might give the Dodgers pause, they may turn their attention to Bellinger first.

    The 23-year-old clubbed an NL rookie record 39 homers in 2017. After slugging "only" 25 last year, he's already hit four in his first five games this season. He's also a terrific athlete and versatile defender.

    Bellinger is due to enter arbitration in 2020, with free agency to follow after 2023. Rather than let him play out the string, the Dodgers might angle to copy the five-year, $100 million contract the Houston Astros gave Alex Bregman, except with an extra year to account for Bellinger's youth.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $120 Million

Miami Marlins: Marcus Stroman

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    The Miami Marlins don't have much on their long-term books right now, and they stand to have a blank slate once Wei-Yin Chen's albatross contract runs out after the 2020 season.

    As it so happens, the Marlins' local television contact is also slated to expire in 2020. If their new agreement is more lucrative than the current one, they'll have every excuse to speed up their rebuild with a free-agent splash.

    Marcus Stroman, who's headed for free agency after the 2020 season, would be perfect.

    Though the 27-year-old is a New York native, he grew up as a huge fan of Marlins CEO and New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter. He also has a fun-loving, boisterous personality that could breathe life into the party atmosphere the Marlins want at Marlins Park.

    All Stroman has to do is pitch in 2019 and 2020 like he did in 2017, and he might strive to match Yu Darvish's six-year, $126 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $120 Million

Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The Milwaukee Brewers will soon have to think about extending Travis Shaw and Josh Hader. But extending Christian Yelich also needs to be on their minds.

    The Brewers inherited Yelich's team-friendly deal from the Miami Marlins when they traded for him last January. It's paying him only $9.75 million this year, and it'll max out at $15 million if the Brewers exercise his 2022 club option.

    But as more time goes on, it's becoming clearer that Yelich, 27, is one of baseball's elite talents. He won the 2018 NL MVP on the strength of a supernova second half, and he opened 2019 by picking right back up where he left off.

    The Brewers could move to extend Yelich after they're done with Ryan Braun in 2020. At that point, they might replace his remaining deal in favor of something much more befitting of his talent.

    Best Guess: 8 Years, $200 Million

Minnesota Twins: Jose Berrios

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Twins extended Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler during spring training. They wanted to extend Jose Berrios as well, but he turned them away.

    "We're waiting for the best for both sides," the 24-year-old righty said, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. "If it doesn't happen this year, maybe next year."

    Though Berrios could have cashed in following his first All-Star season in 2018, he stands to do even better after 2019. If he takes another step toward becoming an ace, he could use his first go-round through arbitration in 2020 to squeeze more money out of the Twins.

    If so, Luis Severino's four-year, $40 million contract with the New York Yankees could be a model for Berrios. A deal like that would give him some financial security, and it would allow the Twins to buy out one of his free-agent years.

    Best Guess: 4 Years, $40 Million

New York Mets: Noah Syndergaard

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Now that the New York Mets have paid Jacob deGrom—who rode a Cy Young Award-winning 2018 season to a four-year, $120.5 million payday—they should turn their attention to Noah Syndergaard.

    The 26-year-old doesn't have deGrom's track record. Health woes are partially to blame for that, as he's been held back by a lat tear, a finger strain and hand, foot and mouth disease over the last two seasons.

    Syndergaard's stuff, however, is as electric as it gets. He's thus far used it to accumulate a 2.97 ERA in five seasons. With good health, that number could come way down in 2019.

    If so, the Mets may rush to prevent Syndergaard from reaching free agency after the 2021 season. His injury history may motivate him to hear them out, and he could be all too willing to sign if the Mets come to him with a duplicate of Stephen Strasburg's seven-year, $175 million extension.

    Best Guess: 7 Years, $175 million

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The New York Yankees have assembled a strong roster for 2019, and surprisingly few of their players will be free agents after the season. They won't have to do much replacement shopping.

    That means they'll be able to give Aaron Judge more of their attention.

    The Yankees have yet to extend the 6'7", 282-pound slugger, but his upcoming arbitration eligibility in 2020 will ramp up the pressure on them to do so. Judge can ramp it up even more by playing in 2019 like he did in 2017, when he was the AL MVP runner-up on the strength of a 1.049 OPS, 52 homers and 8.1 WAR.

    The soon-to-be 27-year-old would be on the wrong side of 30 upon hitting the open market after 2022, so he'll also have an incentive to negotiate a deal with the Yankees next winter. If his 2019 season does go well, a 10-year megadeal may be in order.

    Best Guess: 10 Years, $270 Million

Oakland Athletics: Khris Davis

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    Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

    The Oakland Athletics typically don't hand out hefty contracts. Eric Chavez's $66 million deal from 2004 remains the only $40-plus million contract in franchise history.

    Still, Oakland's clean long-term books and Khris Davis' looming free agency may combine for something out of the ordinary.

    Davis had his third straight 40-homer season in 2018, and he hit five in his first seven games in 2019. That kind of power is rare, but it's almost all he has to offer. As such, the 31-year-old is the kind of player who could be neglected on the open market.

    Perhaps not so coincidentally, Davis has been open about his desire to stay in Oakland. The A's are already paying him $16.5 million this year. Perhaps they could use that figure as an average annual value in a deal that would keep him in Oakland for a few more years.

    Best Guess: 3 Years, $50 Million

Philadelphia Phillies: J.T. Realmuto

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Phillies spent their winter putting together a heck of a lineup core, but there's a slight hitch in their plans.

    While Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura are controlled through at least 2021, J.T. Realmuto is slated to hit the open market after the 2020 season.

    The 28-year-old catcher should have every reason to be excited about his future earning potential. He's coming off an All-Star 2018 season, and his developing power and Citizens Bank Park should be a match that accelerates the arrival of his superstardom.

    Still, fellow catcher Yasmani Grandal's disappointing experience on the 2018-19 market begs the question of how much money awaits Realmuto after 2020. That may lead him and the Phillies to hammer out a shorter version of Buster Posey's eight-year, $159 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.

    Best Guess: 5 Years, $100 Million

Pittsburgh Pirates: Jameson Taillon

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Pirates have extended Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Felipe Vazquez and Francisco Cervelli in recent years.

    Jameson Taillon could be next.

    The 27-year-old has endured quite a few ups and downs in the years since the Pirates picked him second overall in the 2010 draft, but things are looking up now. Taillon broke out with a 3.20 ERA over 191 innings in 2018, and he teased even better things for 2019 amid a red-hot second half.

    If Taillon does cement himself as an ace in 2019, he'll head into his first year of arbitration in 2020 with some extra bargaining power. The question is how much the Pirates would budge, as they've preferred to extend only pre-arbitration-eligible players.

    If the Pirates determine to make an exception for their homegrown ace, they might dole out their first $50-plus million contract since Andrew McCutchen's $51.5 million extension million in 2012.

    Best Guess: 5 Years, $55 Million

San Diego Padres: Madison Bumgarner

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    The San Diego Padres can afford to have Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers on their long-term books because cheap young talent largely comprises the rest of their roster.

    Since that's going to be the status quo for a while, the Padres should be able to afford a tried-and-true ace to take command of their young rotation for 2020 and beyond. There's nobody better for the job than Madison Bumgarner.

    The 29-year-old southpaw is a four-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion. And while he's likely past his prime now, it says a lot about his pitching ability that he put up a 3.29 ERA in 2017 and 2018 despite two serious injuries.

    If the 2019-20 market treats Bumgarner less like Patrick Corbin and more like Jake Arrieta or Dallas Keuchel, the Padres might not even have to go as far as nine figures to land him.

    Best Guess: 5 years, $90 Million

San Francisco Giants: Francisco Lindor

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    The San Francisco Giants haven't made much progress with their rebuild. Then again, what can they do while they're stuck with Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria?

    Wait it out, and then look to reinvest that money when it comes free.

    With the exception of Longoria, that'll be after 2021. That means the Giants will have plenty of cash to spend on free agents after the '21 season, up to and including the shortstops. In particular: Francisco Lindor.

    Lindor, who'll be coming off his age-27 season when he reaches free agency, would offer the Giants not just elite two-way talent, but also winning experience and a highly marketable persona.

    In other words, he'll be a better option than the one the Giants were pursuing when they were in the hunt for Bryce Harper. As such, perhaps they'd be more willing to hand out a nine-figure contract that starts with a three.

    Best Guess: 10 Years, $300 Million

Seattle Mariners: Mitch Haniger

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Seattle Mariners did well to get out from under Robinson Cano's contract over the winter. After this season, they'll also finally be free of Felix Hernandez's albatross deal.

    Perhaps they'll celebrate by extending Mitch Haniger.

    Haniger is a rare incumbent among Seattle's hired-gun-laden lineup, and he's by far the best. He stayed healthy and blossomed in 2018 to the tune of an .859 OPS, 26 homers and 6.1 WAR.

    He's also a 28-year-old who isn't ticketed for free agency until after 2022. His best play will be to use his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2020 to try to coax a multiyear deal out of the Mariners.

    Though Haniger isn't a carbon copy of Aaron Hicks—who was supposed to be a free agent after 2019—it's possible that his seven-year, $70 million contract with the New York Yankees could provide the roadmap to a deal with the Mariners. It just might not have as many years on it.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $60 Million

St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Cardinals made a huge splash when they traded for Paul Goldschmidt in December, and they've already taken care of him with a five-year, $130 million extension.

    They now have to take care of the other half of their middle-of-the-order slugging duo: Matt Carpenter.

    In 2018, Carpenter mounted a run at the NL MVP with 36 homers and an .897 OPS. Though he's now 33, his power and patience are fading fast. St. Louis can live with his defense as long as that remains the case.

    The Cardinals can retain Carpenter for 2020 by exercising his $18.5 million option. But if his 2019 season is anywhere near as good as his 2018 season, they could potentially fold that money into a new multiyear deal that would keep Carpenter in town for a few more years.

    Best Guess: 3 Years, $60 Million

Tampa Bay Rays: Willy Adames

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Between extensions for Blake Snell, Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Lowe, the Tampa Bay Rays have spent $127.5 million on a core that will stay together through as far as 2023.

    The Rays already control Willy Adames through 2024, too. Still, it isn't too early for them to start thinking about paying him next.

    Adames arrived as a top prospect in 2018, and he ultimately found his groove with an .886 OPS over the final two months of the season. The 23-year-old can be an All-Star shortstop as soon as this year if he continues on that trajectory.

    In March, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Rays had already discussed an extension with Adames. If they reopen them either during the season or in the winter, the final result could resemble the nearly identical extensions fellow shortstops Tim Anderson and Paul DeJong signed in 2017 and 2018.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $25 Million

Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Texas Rangers have only three players who are either arbitration-eligible or pre-arbitration-eligible: Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields Jr. and Joey Gallo.

    Of the three, Gallo is the best bet to collect a payday from the Rangers in the near future.

    Sure, the 25-year-old has whiffed in 37.8 percent of his major league plate appearances. But he has enough patience and more than enough power (81 homers across 2017 and 2018) to keep his offense afloat, and he's a versatile defender as well.

    Gallo will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2020. The Rangers likely wouldn't entertain signing him to a long-term megadeal, but something that at least locks down his salaries and buys out a free-agent year—thereby cementing his trade value—might be in the cards.

    Best Guess: 4 Years, $40 Million

Toronto Blue Jays: Danny Jansen

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    Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

    The Toronto Blue Jays' long-term books are spotless save for Lourdes Gurriel and Randall Grichuk's contracts, so they may try to extend Marcus Stroman and/or Aaron Sanchez beyond 2020.

    If not, they'll likely save their next big contract for one of their up-and-coming prospects. It could be Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Bo Bichette.

    But for now, the guy who has a leg up on the two of them is Danny Jansen.

    The 23-year-old catcher showed a strong on-base talent in the minors, and his .347 OBP at the end of last season hinted it will translate to the majors. He's also a well-regarded defensive catcher.

    If Jansen fares well in his first full season in 2019, the Blue Jays might prioritize locking him down next winter. The six-year, $23 million extension Yan Gomes signed with the Cleveland Indians early in his career could be the blueprint for a deal.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $25 Million

Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The Washington Nationals will eventually have to think about paying Juan Soto and Victor Robles, but Anthony Rendon comes first.

    The 28-year-old was often lost in Bryce Harper's shadow, but he was the better player of the two at times. Even Harper's spectacular MVP season in 2015 didn't keep Rendon from amassing more WAR between 2014 and 2018.

    And Rendon is only getting better. Over his last two seasons, he's accumulated a .923 OPS, 49 homers and 10.1 WAR.

    Rendon is due for free agency after 2019, so the Nationals aren't likely to sign him to an extension. But they should be first in line for his services on an otherwise barren winter market, and they may be willing to give him a slightly downgraded version of Nolan Arenado's deal.

    Best Guess: 6 Years, $160 Million


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Extension tracker courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors. Other payroll date courtesy of Roster Resource.


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