Extension Day led by Mike Trout
Tuesday was a day full of extensions, with a total of four new contracts for players around the league. The first was the biggest, and the biggest overall contract in North American sports history. That belonged to Mike Trout, because of course it did. After rumors for years that he was going to hit the open market and sign with Bryce Harper and the Phillies, Trout decided to stick around in Los Angeles with the Angels. He’ll get $430 million over 12 years, which sounds crazy but might actually be team-friendly? It’s hard not to be when you’re talking about the prime years for the best player in baseball and a guy who is keeping himself in the best of all-time conversation. There are some that will point to Trout’s lack of playoff success as an argument against him being the best in today’s game, but resist that urge. It is stupid. The simple fact is that no one is close to Trout right now. Maybe if Betts has another couple years like he did in 2018 he will be, but remember that Trout has had that kind of season basically every season of his career. There’s no shame in being number two behind Trout, and now the Angels star is getting paid like the player he is.
Trout wasn’t the only player to sign a new deal with their current team. Another American League MVP contender did the same, with Alex Bregman signing an extension despite having not even reached arbitration yet. The Astros star infielder will get six years and $100 million. Moving down on the pecking order, Astros reliever Ryan Pressly signed a two-year, $17.5 million deal while Rays infielder signed a six-year, $24 million deal.
From the Red Sox perspective, the big takeaway here is what it means for a couple of Boston’s biggest stars. Specifically, that would be Betts and Andrew Benintendi. For Betts, the Trout extension gives him a good look at what he could be expecting if he signed a deal now. Something with a year or two less and a couple million shaved off the average annual value sounds right. In other words, something like 10/340 or 11/374 could be a possibility. Of course, the flip side of this is that Betts would now be the sole owner of that 2020 free agent class, and he may be looking at that opportunity to get an even bigger payday. It really depends on what Betts wants to do, but the Red Sox should at least be preparing an offer in this range. Meanwhile, Benintendi is from the same draft class and has the same track as Bregman. He does not have the same track record, though. Benintendi would be looking at a big deal relative to his service time, but it would probably be more like $75-$85 million over the same number of years.
Dellin Betances to start the year on the Injured List
The Yankees are dealing with injury after injury this spring. Luis Severino and CC Sabathia are both going to start the year on the IL, and now another pitcher is going to join them. This time it will be in the bullpen, with Dellin Betances being shut down for a bit. The big righty is suffering from a shoulder injury and is going to try and throw again in a few days. It’s unclear just when he is expected to be back in the majors. The good news for New York is that they have plenty of other late-inning options in front of Aroldis Chapman to make up for Betances’ absence.
Michael Fulmer likely needs Tommy John surgery
The Tigers are in the middle of a fairly lengthy rebuild right now, but one of their few bright spots was projected to be their top starting pitcher. Michael Fulmer had a great rookie year in 2016 and a solid follow-up to that, but then started to falter a bit last year. He may have been pitching with an injury, and now he is in danger of missing all of 2019. The righty has been recommended to undergo Tommy John surgery. If it was going to happen, this would be the year to do it, with Detroit highly unlikely to compete in 2019. The hope is he can get healthy and effective again in 2020, and perhaps become a trade chip after that season.