The beginning of the season gets teams and fans alike hot and bothered off of early hype, and we hear the word EXTENSION get thrown around A LOT. So, I figured, why not look into an extension candidate from every team that I think should get a deal done to keep them around long-term so fans can go and buy a jersey. But please, don't go and buy a jersey based on my predictions.
Let's pick up where we left off in the NL Central a couple of weeks ago.
Cubs: SS Nico Hoerner(24), Arb Eligible '23-'25, Free Agent 2026. The former first-round pick is filling in admirably at SS post-Javy Baez era with the Cubs. I like Hoerner as he can play 2B, SS, and roam the OF. He can also handle the bat relatively decent and has some speed playing. I would give Hoerner a 6yr, $26MM deal, which would pay him about $4.3MM AAV.
Reds: 2B Jonathan India(25), Arb Eligible '24-'26, Free Agent 2027. RoY India was a pleasant surprise for the Reds in '21 and emerged as a building block for the team. The 2018 5th overall pick delivered on the talent in the box and on the diamond. I would sign India to a 6yr, $30MM deal which would pay him about $5MM a year.
Dodgers: SP Walker Buehler(27), Arb Eligible '23,'24, Free Agent 2025. First-round pick, 2x All-Star, 2020 World Series champ, and heir to future HoF Clayton Kershaw's stop atop the Dodgers rotation. Two other Starting Pitchers signed deals at age 27, Lance McCullers(5yr, $85MM, $17MM AAV) and Jose Berrios(7yr, $131MM, $18.71AAV). Both of those deals have happened in the, last two seasons; honestly, I think Buehler is better than both,. This leads to me wanting to give Buehler a 6yr, $120MM deal worth $20MM AAV.
UPDATE- Since I wrote this Buehler needed Tommy John and won't pitch again until late 2023 if not 2024
Giants: OF Joc Pederson(30), Free Agent 2023. Pederson is likely the outlier on this list of players who should get an extension, but the Giants OF looks to be happy to be at home in the Bay Area once again. I would lock up Pederson with a 3yr, $30MM to get the restand of him prime to continue to contend in the NL West.
UPDATE- The Giants have reportedly been in talks with Joc to extend him and keep him in SF.
Rockies: SP Chad Kuhl(29), Free Agent 2023. The Rockies beat every writer to the punch extending McMahon, Freeland, Cron, and left me to pick between 29yo rookie Conner Joe and Kuhl; I went with Kuhl. I think that Kuhl has adjusted well being out of Pittsburg and could help this rotation as a solid 3rd option behind Freeland and Marquez. I will give Kuhl a 3yr, $18MM deal if the season goes well.
Padres: SP Joe Musgrove(29), Free Agent 2023. 2017 World Series champ with the Astros is due for a big payday as he has pitched two good seasons in the NL West with the Padres in 2020 and 2021. Musgrove is likely a top-5 arm on the open market this winter and, with SP at a premium, is in line for big money. I think Musgrove's deal looks close to, if not precisely, the same as Zack Wheeler's (5yr, $118MM, $23.6AAV). I would give Musgrove less than Wheeler, Ray(5yr, $115), and Gausman(5yr, $110). I think he is closer to McCullers(5yr, $85MM) and gets a 5yr, $90MM deal.
UPDATE- Musgrove inked an extension worth 5yr and $100MM
UPDATE 2: The next most obvious candidate to extend is Juan Soto, however the Padres will need to clear Eric Hosmer and Wil Meyers off the books.
D-Backs: SP Zac Gallen(26), Arb Eligible '23-'25, Free Agent 2026. I also chose Seth Beer until I realized he was a rookie like Joe. Gallen, a 3rd round pick, is a Boras client. It's unlikely unless the D-Backs jump into serious contention in the NL West then; he likely rides out his service time, however. Gallen is exciting. Before 2021, he started at most 15 games a season and had a sub 3.00ERA. In 2021 he started 23 with a 4.30ERA, which isn't awful. I would lock Gallen up alongside Kelly in AZ with a deal close to Sandy Alcantara(5yr, $56MM, $11.2AAV). I would give Gallen a 5yr, $52MM deal.
Much like we did the AL Pieces, let's look at two bonus players who just have piqued my interest.
Nationals: 1B Josh Bell(29), Free Agent 2023. Josh Bell isn't an attractive name on the 2023 Free Agent market, but he is one of the few players on the upcoming market who can hit 30HR+ and get on base at a .351clip. Bell has shown decent and good enough defense at 1B as well. He also added LF into his abilities in 2021 with the Nats. I like Bell as much as I like Max Muncy of the Dodgers, and he signed a 3yr, $26MM deal in 2020. I think Bell can land a 3yr, $30MM deal.
UPDATE: Bell was traded to the Padres and with that the Nationals have no one of interest to extend
Dodgers: SS Trea Turner(28), Free Agent 2023. Turner a career .302/.357/.490 hitter is probably the top free agent in the class next to Xander Bogarts, Carlos Correa, and Nolan Arenado if they decline their player options. Turner has shown he can ball out and be a top-5 MVP player like he was in 2021. He replaced the departed Corey Seager at SS in 2022, and after playing 2B in 2021, he showed an exciting versatility positionally that should intrigue a few teams. Turner will be 29 when Free Agency hits in 2023, and I think he is an all-around better play than Trevor Story(6yr, $140MM, $23.3AAV) and signs a deal similar to this. I would offer Turner a 7-year, $175MM deal, the same deal the 31yo Marcus Semien signed with the Rangers.