When the Atlanta Braves signed Marcell Ozuna to a 1-year deal, it may have slammed the door shut on a possible Mitch Haniger trade this winter. But could the Mariners explore a different route altogether?
The Mariners are still more likely to trade Haniger than anything else, but that doesn’t mean they won’t attempt to lock in their All-Star right now. With a dwindling trade market this winter, it may be worth exploring an extension.
However, a trade could make more sense in June and July if Haniger can show he is healthy and back to his 2018 self. And while that probably makes the most sense, an extension for the 29-year-old outfielder could be the way to go. But what would a Haniger extension look like?
Well, let’s remember that Haniger has 3-years of club control remaining. He will be controlled by the Mariners from 2020-2022, his age 29-31 seasons. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time but settled with the Mariners for a $3 million salary in 2020.
For Seattle to extend Haniger, they’ll need to buy out at least 2-years of arbitration and at least a year of free agency. But keep in mind, both sides need to find a win in any extension talks. For Haniger to receive an instant raise, GM Jerry Dipoto may demand an extra year of club control.
But where do we start? Well, let’s start by projecting what Haniger is likely to get if he plays out his arbitration in Seattle. He is set to make $3 million in 2020. In year 2, he will likely earn between $6-$8 million and somewhere between $10-$13 million in year 3.
Let’s go ahead and assume Haniger gets the high-end of each range, as his agents surely will. We can reasonably expect Haniger to earn roughly $25 million over the next 3 years. Now the Mariners will need to buy out 2-years of free agency.
Finding Haniger’s price on the open market 3-years before he actually hits is tough. We don’t know anything about how healthy or productive Haniger will be. We also have to factor in that Haniger would enter free agency as a 32-year-old.
Interestingly enough, finding the AAV for Haniger may have bee achieved for us with the Ozuna signing. The 29-year-old Ozuna got a 1-year, $18 million contracts on Tuesday. Now, Haniger is the better player and you need to factor in some inflation, but he will also be 3-years older than Ozuna was this year.
So no matter where you land, there is guesswork involved in predicting what Haniger may get on the open market in 3-years. The best we can suggest is a price range between $18-$24 million AAV.
So, we have the 3-years of arbitration that will be worth roughly $25 million. We have the 2 free agent years they’ll attempt to buy for anywhere between $36-$50 million. Let’s just split the difference and call in $43 million.
So here we land at a 5-year deal worth $68 million, give or take. Again, we are making educated guesses in salaries, but we need to remember that Haniger needs a reason to take an extension now. If he is going to get this over the next 5 years, why lock yourself into Seattle.
Well, if he signed such a deal, these figures would be guaranteed. As of now, Haniger has very little long-term safety. What if the back injury flares up? What if he can’t repeat his 2017 and 2018 numbers? What if a new injury sneaks up on him?
Security is what Haniger gets. But what does Seattle get? Why would they pay full market price 3-years before they have to? And why should they sign Haniger to this deal and risk an injury derailing their shot at getting their money back?
All of these concerns are fair to consider from both sides. And it may be why we haven’t even heard a whisper of extension negotiations having been approached. Like any move the Mariners make with Haniger, waiting a few months may be the right decision.
But if both sides are interested, a 5-year extension worth between $65-$75 million seems like a good place to start.