Between now and Opening Day is the time when teams and players who've not yet reacher free agency often work out contract extensions. The Indians player with the most chatter about a possible extension this winter has been Justin Masterson, who's entering his final season of team control, and is likely to earn close to $10 million through arbitration, if the two sides don't work out a longer deal. I wrote about a possible extension for Masterson a few weeks ago, but he's not the only player the Tribe could look to extend before the season gets underway. In fact, Masterson isn't even the best player the Tribe might extend, Jason Kipnis is.
I wanted the team to work out an extension with Kipnis a year ago, when he was coming off a relative down season, and could have been had for pretty cheap. Based on his production and contracts for similar players, I speculated in March that he could be had for 6 years, $30 million, with a team option for a 7th year. For whatever reason(s), nothing was worked out.
The season began, and after a slow first week, Kipnis got going at the plate, went out and had the best June ever by a Tribe hitter, which won him AL Player of the Month honors, then got himself named to the All-Star team, and won our Indians MVP countdown.
Kipnis is currently under team control through 2017, when he'll turn 30. He isn't yet arbitration eligible, so the Indians can pay him ~$500,000 in 2014, while the following three years will be far more expensive. To try and get a sense of what an extension for Kipnis now might look like, I found other players one season away from arbitration eligibility (the same point Kipnis is at now) who signed an extension in the last two years. Here are the four players fitting that description:
|Andrew McCutchen||OF||Pirates||25||6 years, $51.5M, plus 7th-year team option ($14.75M)|
|Starlin Castro||SS||Cubs||23||7 years, $60M, plus 7th-year team option ($16M)|
|Allen Craig||1B||Cardinals||28||5 years, $31M, plus 6th-year team option ($13M)|
|Cameron Maybin||OF||Padres||25||5 years, $25M, plus 6th-year team option ($9M)|
- *Age in first season of extension, Kipnis will be 27 in 2014
- **All salary data courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts
|Player||1-year Games||1-year wRC+||1-year fWAR||2-year Games||2-year wRC+||2-year fWAR|