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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


Contract Extensions Newsbeat

Monday, June 15, 2015

3 reminders that long extensions for young players are still risky

Jedd Gyorko

He was a 24-year-old rookie middle infielder who hit 23 homers while playing half his games in Petco Park. How do you not want to lock that guy up? The only real question is when to stop offering him more and more years on the extension. He had a 113 OPS+ when he was 24, which meant it was reasonable to expect even more from him as he entered his prime, and that even more would mean he would be a perennial All-Star.

Instead, he was one of the worst everyday players in baseball last year, hitting .210/.280/.333. He’s hitting .210 again this year, and he’s doing it with even less power. There was a glimmer of hope last year, as Gyorko got relatively hot after the All-Star break, but he lost his job to Cory Spangenberg this season and was banished to the minors again. He’s 26 now, and he’s been a .220-or-worse hitter for almost two calendar years now. He’ll make $13 million in 2019, which is an absolutely stunning amount for a player struggling this mightily.

Even when the problem with a pitcher is hard to diagnose, like with Cahill and Romero, there’s still an element of assumed risk that’s easy to understand because pitchers are supposed to be fragile and mercurial. Gyorko reminds us that hitters can be just as weird, and considering how far removed we are from the version the Padres thought they were locking up, it looks like the problem had more to do with poor evaluation and overreacting to a fast start. It’s the new front office regime that has to pay for it, too.



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