The Braves yesterday announced what seemed to be at least their twelfth long-term deal for a young player this offseason, signing shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a seven-year, $58 million extension. The deal covers all of Simmons' arbitration years, and two years of free agency. Pundits were quick to rule in the Braves' favor on this deal, and of course if Simmons blossoms into a star, it will work in their favor. But really, the team and the player are exchanging security. The Braves get cost certainty even if Simmons takes off, and Simmons gets paycheck security even if he flounders.
What struck me most about the deal, though -- and why I'm writing about it on Camden Chat -- is just how similar Simmons and Machado are in some key ways. They both debuted late in 2012, and locked down full time jobs in 2013. They both won gold gloves at their respective positions. They're both already elite defenders, and both have developing bats. And look at their career lines to date:
There are, of course, differences between the two players. Machado is younger (21 vs 24), and of a higher prospect pedigree (3rd overall pick vs 70th). Machado has the edge with the bat, whereas Simmons might be one of the only guys in the majors who can beat Machado's glovework. And Machado ended 2013 with an injury -- worse, a repeat injury -- which can never be counted out in long-term contract considerations.
Looking at all of those variables combined, it probably takes more to extend Machado than it did Simmons -- and Machado may have less incentive to sign than Simmons did. But let's be honest -- the Orioles aren't extending Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Those guys are going to free agency, and the Orioles will be competing for their services against some big-spending suitors. If the team wants to build cost certainty into a long-term offensive core to complement Adam Jones' contract, along with the pitching of Chris Tillman, and hopefully Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado is the guy to target.
It wouldn't be at all outrageous to offer Manny Machado a seven-year extension -- like Simmons, buy out a couple years of free agency -- and up the ante to the $60-65M range. It's the same gambit as Simmons' deal -- exchanging cost certainty for paycheck certainty -- with a slightly higher risk and higher potential reward. Extensions like these are the kinds of things where fans will never really know if they're being discussed. But it would be a great gambit for Dan Duquette to get Machado into a long-term deal right now.