Yesterday in the wake of the Evan Longoria news, we got to wondering which players might be the best candidates for their teams to lock up through 2022. We're skipping the Rays and the Reds in this little exercise, but still got to only half the remaining clubs yesterday. Here are the rest of them ...
Diamondback: I was going to make some sort of case for Paul Goldschmidt, only to discover that Goldy's just 15 days younger than Justin Upton. Which would seem to end that argument, even if Upton's coming off a sub-par season.
Marlin: Giancarlo Stanton Giancarlo Stanton Giancarlo Stanton Giancarlo Stanton, except it's unlikely that Giancarlo Stanton figures another decade with this franchise would be so wonderful. Except it wouldn't be a decade, because he would get traded the next time the owner gets his feelings hurt by those locals. Except he couldn't be traded, because he wouldn't sign a long-term contract without a no-trade clause. And no-trade clauses are against inviolable team policy. Catch-22!
Oriole: The Orioles' best players in 2012 were Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy, but none of them are young enough or excellent enough to merit a 10-year contract. And I suppose the jury's still out on third baseman Manny Machado. But he's only 20 and he's already pretty good. There are a lot of good reasons to think he's going to be an outstanding player for a long while. Especially if he shifts back to shortstop, his position in the minors.
Padre: San Diego's got a number of good young hitters, but none of them are exceptionally young or exceptionally good. The best of them might be catcher Yasmani Grandal ... but you're probably not going to give a 10-year contract to a guy who just got suspended for 50 games. Who else is there, though? Yonder Alonso? Logan Forsythe? There's just too much uncertainty here. Better to wait, and see how Grandal fares for another season. Better to wait, and see if Alonso's able to take advantage of the home ballpark's new, cozier dimensions. Better to hold your powder.
Phillie: This year, the youngest Phillie with at least 250 plate appearances was John Mayberry. He'll turn 29 in a few weeks. The Phillies' two youngest hitters were Freddy Galvis (22) and Domonic Brown (24), neither of whom were exactly lighting up the scoreboards. Among the hurlers, Vance Worley is both young and good, but hardly immortal. This team is just flat old, with little hope of getting younger anytime soon. Hey, Cole Hamels is only 28. Maybe they should extend him through 2022. Makes more sense than Ryan Howard's contract.
Pirate: I just discovered that Clint Barmes is going to earn $5.5 million next season. If he doesn't fly into New York for Marvin Miller's funeral ... Anyway, the Pirates already lay claim to Andrew McCutchen's talents through 2018, so why not four more years? Sure, McCutchen will be 35 in 2022. But he seems like a genuinely outstanding person, and there's no reason to think he won't still be good then. Sure, you could take a flyer on Starling Marte. But he's only two years younger than McCutchen.
Ranger: Boy, this is a tough one. The Rangers have two outstanding young players, and they're both shortstops. Elvis Andrus is 24, and battle-tested; Jurickson Barthelomeus Profar is 19, and has only 17 plate appearances above Double-A. I suppose you go with Andrus, twice an All-Star already ... except you can also make a pretty good case for trading him.
Red So: Oh, to have Anthony Rizzo back! But Rizzo's gone, now toiling for Theo Epstein's Cubs. Which leaves the Red Sox with just one outstanding young player: third baseman Will Middlebrooks. His control of the strike zone isn't great and he's no longer a baby. But he's the best young player on the roster. If you think he's healthy and you can sign him to a team-friendly deal ... Well, there are worse things you could do with your money, I guess. And thanks to the Dodgers, you've now got a lot of money.
Rockie: So here's a tricky thing. The Rockies' most interesting young player might be Josh Rutledge. But Rutledge plays shortstop, and the Rockies have another shortstop who's already signed through ... 2020. This, by the way, illustrates one of the pitfalls of incredibly lengthy contracts: Just a few years in, you might discover that you have a much cheaper option at the same position. Yes, Rutledge will probably shift to second base and thrive there. But it would be nice to have a choice.
Royal: At this moment, the Royals have three decent candidates for a megadeal: 24-year-old Mike Moustakas, 23-year-old Eric Hosmer, and (almost) 22-year-old Wil Myers. All of them have tremendous upsides, and all of them come with warning stickers. Moustakas owns a career .301 on-base percentage. Hosmer struggled terribly last season. And Myers doesn't have a single at-bat in the majors yet. I'm splitting the difference, because I still have a great deal of (perhaps misplaced) faith in Hosmer.
Tiger: Prince Fielder's already signed through 2020, so the Tigers don't have to "worry" about him getting away. Miguel Cabrera's signed through 2015. He'll turn 30 next spring, and you might think he's too old for an MMYC. But Cabrera will be 39 in '22; Albert Pujols's contract with the Angels will pay him $31 million when he's 41 years old. Which isn't to suggest that $31 million will be well-spent. But someone will probably be willing to pay Cabrera at least that much when he's 39.
Twin: Joe Mauer's already signed through 2018, at $23 million annually. Would you add another four years to that deal? Probably not; in the spring of 2022, he'll turn 39. But who else is there? The Twins have lost 190 games in the last two seasons, largely because their farm system suddenly stopped producing top talent. Granted, 19-year-old third baseman Miguel Sano is an outstanding prospect. But he hasn't played above Class A yet, so is hardly a sure thing. Once he does reach the majors, though -- say, in 2014 -- he'll be the Twins' only real candidate for an MMYC.
White Sox simply don't have any exciting young hitters. Dayan Viciedo's only 23 and he's got a fun nickname (The Tank), but he was also a below-average hitter last season. The good news is that he's still young enough to develop, and probably will. The bad news is that he's an awful outfielder. The only young White Sox player who really gets the blood flowing is Chris Sale, who's been generally healthy since signing, and last season ranked as one of the best pitchers in the league.: I'm afraid we essentially must break the no-pitchers rule here, as the
Yankee: Umm, Ivan Nova? He wasn't allowed to pitch in October. Remember all those raves about Li'l Dante Bichette? This year in Class A, he hit three home runs in 122 games. The only Yankee you might remotely consider signing through 2022 is Robinson Canó ... and he turned 30 last month.
Just for kicks, who are the best candidates in the majors for one of these mega-deals? My quick take, based almost entirely on a) youth, b) demonstrated ability, and c) not being a pitcher ...