This offseason is set to be a big one for the Seattle Mariners. While they may not be as active in the trade market as they’ve been in recent years, the 2019-2020 offseason is a good time for the Mariners to begin locking down players for the window they believe will open in the next few years.
One of the most controversial moves prior to the last offseason brought the Mariners a Shortstop that they view as a huge part of their future. The Jean Segura for J.P. Crawford trade seemed confusing at first. After considering the many factors that played into such a trade, it became clear that the Mariners believe in Crawford more than most.
Crawford is not eligible for Free Agency until 2024 and won’t become arbitration-eligible until 2021. The M’s may want wait until next offseason to explore an extension but starting talks now wouldn’t hurt.
After coming off a rough last few months of the season, the Mariners may even be able to sign J.P. to a cheaper contract, whereas if they waited until next offseason, his efforts in 2020 could up his value even more.
If the Mariners really do feel like Crawford is the shortstop of the future, then it’s time to lock him up. You see it all the time. And while it may seem early, it’s interesting to note other players that have been locked up in deals such as these.
The Braves signed Ronald Acuna to an 8 year, $100M extension in April after playing just 111 games in his big league career. The Astros signed Jon Singleton to an extension before he even stepped foot onto a major league field. That one didn’t work out so well but you see the point.
Obviously, a J.P. Crawford extension wouldn’t look anything like the deal inked by Acuna. However, extensions such as these a rather common. What might an extension for Crawford look like?
First and foremost, the Mariners will want to buy out his arbitration eligible years. Players are eligible for three years of arbitration so the Mariners would be signing their shortstop in on a fixed rate instead of being left wondering what his salary might look like.
Then, the Mariners will likely want to buy out at least a year of Free Agency, keeping J.P. as a Mariner through the 2025 season. So, basically the Mariners are looking at a six-year extension.
The hard part is deciding how much cash to offer Crawford. At this point in his career, it’s hard to judge his trajectory. A deal with an AAV around three million seems fair, at least in the short term. For Crawford, that would mean that he would earn $3M instead of the Major League Minimum in 2020 as well as locking him into that price range on what would have been his Arbitration years.
There is both risk and reward for the player in these types of situations. On one hand, the player knows their salary and it’s a guarantee that they will make that amount. On the other, Crawford could go out and string a few All-Star seasons together which would make him worth well over $3M.
Along with that, he’d have to wait another year before hitting Free Agency potentially hurting his value there as well. Of course, this comes with a risk for the Mariners as well. If Crawford was to bust, they’d be stuck paying his salary for the next six years.
A deal like this is certainly plausible for a player of Crawford’s caliber. Thankfully, he is represented by Wasserman instead of Scott Boras, who famously hates the idea of extensions. Even if the Mariners were to approach Crawford’s camp this year to discuss such a deal, it’s easy to see it not crossing the finish line until next offseason.
If the Mariners feel that JP Crawford is a huge cog in this retooled machine, they need to prove it. Now maybe a better time than any other to get it done and cross another item off their to-do list before they put the finishing touches on the rebuild next year.