When you look at what has made a team like the Tampa Bay Rays successful over the last few years you always talk about their young players. But not just about their young players but their ability to keep them on team friendly contracts. I’m not just talking about the Matt Moore contract, but look at Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, James Shields, Ben Zobrist and even Carl Crawford a few years ago.
They have done a superior job at keeping their young core together as long as possible and they have done it by signing them early to long term extensions that aren’t necessarily just team friendly but also give in detail the parameters of a future budget. Obviously the Mariners don’t have the issues that the Tampa Bay Rays do when it comes to such a budget.
That said players like Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley aren’t going to be cheap for very long, especially considering the new terms of the CBA signed in November that all but guarantee both Pineda and Ackley as super two arbitration cases next winter.
Dave Cameron has already talked about signing Pineda to a long term deal and has pointed out a lot of what I’ve already said. So it basically sounds like I read the article and am just reiterating it all for Dustin Ackley. Here’s the thing, Ackley doesn’t represent nearly as the amount of risk that is associated with signing Pineda long term.
He’s already shown the ability to hit major league pitching and on top of that he’s shown brief glimpses of quiet possibly being an MVP caliber (7+ WAR) player, ala Dustin Pedroia, making him a prime target for such an extension.
I would suggest an extension similar to the deals worked out between the Rays and Ben Zobrist as well as Dustin Pedroia. Zobrist signed an extension of 4 years worth 18 million where as Pedroia signed a 6 yr./40 million deal. I think a deal that pays Ackley $25.5 million over 6 years broken down as follows:
12: $1.3 Million
13: $2.4 Million
14: $3.8 Million
15: $4.5 Million
16: $6 Million
17: $7.5 Million
This would buy out one year for free-agency and it keeps him pretty cheap over the next few years. This is hardly a risky contract and one that I think the Mariners would be fools not to look at.
“Wait a second”, you might say. “Doesn’t Dustin Ackley already have a set salary?” If you said that then you’re a smart cookie for those of you that didn’t than strap on your learning cap. Dustin Ackley signed a major league contract straight out of the draft that was pretty complicated and dictates exactly what he is to be paid either in the minor leagues or in the major leagues up until 2014.
Per ESPN News services taken back in 2009:
Ackley’s deal could be worth $10 million, depending on how quickly he arrives in the big leagues. Sources familiar with the contract told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that Ackley will collect a $6 million signing bonus, payable in five annual installments of $1.2 million each. And from 2010-14, he could earn anywhere from $1.5 million to $4 million in salaries, depending on whether he’s in the minor leagues or major leagues.
His minor league salaries would be $400,000 in 2010, $300,000 in 2011, $200,000 in 2012, $300,000 in 2013 and $300,000 in 2014.
If he’s in the major leagues, his salary would be $500,000 next year, $600,000 in 2011, $900,000 in 2012, $1.5 million in 2013 and $500,000 in 2014.
Here is the important part to keep in mind.
Once he is eligible for salary arbitration, Ackley can opt out of those salaries and negotiate new figures while going through the arbitration system.
This is why I’d negotiate a new contract now. Obviously the Mariners could go forward next year paying him only $900k next season and then negotiate a new contract extension then. But you do risk him having an amazing year and seeking twice of what you could have kept his contract too his first year through arbitration in 2013.
This also stabilizes his pay. You know what you are paying your budding star through his arbitration years and what you’ll have free when it comes to dealing with other contracts.
It also gives you a ton of trade value if things were to go wrong and you needed to flip him. I’m not saying that’s something that you want to do or look forward to doing, but it’s definitely something to always consider when you are signing someone to such a contract.
The Mariners will probably wait, but considering how most teams have been approaching their young talent it’s not like this is a crazy suggestion. This is a win-win deal for both sides and would keep Ackley cost effective and give him great value to this team going forward.
Just this guys crazy thought for the day.