In the wake of the news about the Tampa Bay Rays locking up Evan Longoria through 2022 (2022!), I got to wondering which players other teams would lock up for the next decade (decade!) if they could. This might seem somewhat far-fetched, but Massively Mega-Year Contracts (MMYC's) seem to be getting more popular all the time.
When the Phillies signed up Ryan Howard to his current deal, they were getting him for another eight seasons (six seasons atop his existing deal). When the Rockies signed Troy Tulowitzki to his current deal, they were getting him for another 11 seasons (six seasons atop his existing deal, plus one option year). When the Reds signed Joey Votto to his current deal, they were getting him for another 13 seasons (11 seasons atop his existing deal). When the Royals signed Salvador Perez to his current deal, they were getting him for five seasons, plus three more if they want him (which they probably will, considering the relatively low salaries for those years). We've seen great players (Votto and Longoria) get MMYC's, and players just starting their major-league careers get MMYC's. And Votto's Reds are hardly a big-spending team, so it seems possible with just about any club.
So leaving aside the Rays and the Reds -- who already have their 2022 guys -- who should be targeted for MMYC's, assuming the dollars are available? Here's Part 1 of this two-part series ...Hey, Evan Longoria can't be the only player worth locking up for another decade. Who should other teams by trying to sign through 2022?
Angels: Oh, how could I forget to mention Albert Pujols? Last winter, he got a 10-year deal. But since that takes him through just 2021, we'll go ahead and choose another candidate for the Angels ... What's that? You've already thought of somebody? Yes, a 10-year deal for Mike Trout would probably work out quite nicely for the Angels.
Jonathan Singleton and 22-year-old second baseman José Altuve. But considering that Singleton hasn't played an inning of Triple-A ball yet, while Altuve's already been an All-Star in the majors, you have to lean toward Altuve.: It's a tough battle between 21-year-old first baseman
s: Your first thought is probably Yoenis Cespedes. Did you know that Cespedes is a year older than Chris Carter, and that those two finished last season with nearly identical rate stats? The real issue is that Cespedes, for all his talents, turned 27 last month. And while his future is exceptionally bright, locking him up through 2022 would mean paying him through most of his decline years. Considering Cespedes' huge advantage over Carter as an all-around player, though, he's gotta be our choice.
Brett Lawrie is the only possible choice, even though his hitting stats this season are worrisome.:
Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are both 23 years old, and outstanding left-handed hitters. But of course Heyward is faster, and more valuable in the field. His injury history is a concern, no question. But we probably haven't seen his best, and he's still something like five or six seasons from his natural peak.s:
Brewers: The Brewers lost Prince Fielder when the slugger signed an MMYC with the Tigers, but before that Milwaukee locked up Ryan Braun through 2021. Today, they don't really have any great candidates for a decade-long deal; the best of them is probably Jean Segura, the kid shortstop the club received from the Angels in last summer's Zack Greinke trade. But Segura hasn't yet hit much in the majors, and it's not clear that he'll be a shortstop for much longer. He's your man, but only if the dollars are exceptionally reasonable.
Cardinals: You might think the Cardinals were well-stocked with young players this year, but they weren't. Allen Craig and Jon Jay both were 27, part-timer Matt Carpenter was 26, and late-season shortstop Pete Kozma was 24. The club's top prospect is probably 22-year-old Shelby Miller ... but he's a pitcher. The Cardinals' best young hitter is probably Matt Adams, but he's got only 91 plate appearances in the majors and it doesn't seem the organization's all that thrilled about him. Reluctantly, I'll Adams but only because I'm a little nutty when it comes to minor-league hitting statistics.
Cubs: Oddly, while the Cardinals have roughly zero good candidates for an MMYC, the Cubs have two: Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, both of whom were 22 last season. Castro is seven months younger than Rizzo, though, which might be enough to carry the argument. Castro's also got a significantly better track record in the majors, which is probably enough to carry it the rest of the way.
Dodgers: Well, you could lock up Matt Kemp (and the Dodgers can certainly afford to); after all, he's just a year older than Longoria. He's not nearly as good as Longoria, though. Which isn't really a problem, as long as he's still an excellent player into this middle 30s. I'm just not sure that he will be. Another option is Clayton Kershaw, who is a) still young, b) quite excellent, but c) a pitcher, dang it.
Giants: The World Series winners were blessed with no fewer than four key hitters aged 24 or 25 last season: Brandon Belt was 24, and Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford were all 25. The choice here seems pretty easy, considering that Posey just won an MVP Award and figures to hit well enough to play first base, if it comes to that. Hey, the Twins locked up Joe Mauer through his Age 35 season; why not Posey through 36?
Indians: At 24, Lonnie Chisenhall is the Indians' youngest key player. And management thought so little of his defense that he dropped below Jack Hannahan at third base on the depth chart. The Indians' top prospect is a 19-year-old shortstop who spent last season in the Class A Midwest League. There's Carlos Santana ... 26-year-old catcher, anyone? The Indians were essentially the first franchise to lock up their good young players to long-term contracts. But today those good young players just aren't there. I suppose my choice here is Santana, but that places a heavy burden on his ability to spend most of his time behind the plate for another decade.
Mariners: He's a pitcher and he'll turn 27 shortly after Opening Day next spring, but I think you have to go with Félix Hernández. He's as good a bet as any pitcher to stay healthy, and the alternatives here are Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley.
Mets: Hey, R.A. Dickey's a knuckleballer; he can't pitch until he's 48? Maybe not. And David Wright, for all his talents, turns 30 in a few weeks. So the Met's only good candidate is shortstop Rubén Tejada, who's played decently in the majors at 21 and 22. He's a long way from stardom, but he does figure to be a useful player into his early 30s.