The Seattle Mariners are coming out of their rebuild, and some players have begun to emerge as keepers. JP Crawford is one of those players. He had a breakthrough 2021 season, and now President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto has been saying that JP Crawford is the Mariners shortstop going forward. The team is sticking with him, who is now the leader of the ball club. This suggests that he will be sticking around in Seattle, so could we see an extension coming?
JP Crawford was one of the best surprises last season. He finally showed the promise at the big league level that was once seen in him back when he was a first-round pick in 2016. The Mariners acquired Crawford at the start of their rebuild before the 2019 season. He had made it to the big leagues with the Phillies but had lost his prospect shine. He came to Seattle for a fresh start and started the year in Tacoma.
He got back to having fun in Tacoma and had an on-base streak of over a month in AAA. He made his Mariners debut on May 10, 2019. He showed some signs in his first year with the Mariners but ultimately was subpar offensively. He showed incredible flashes with his glove and showed the Mariners that he was one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He still had time to develop his bat, since the Mariners were in a rebuild still.
2020 was a mini coming-out party for Crawford. He made outstanding defensive plays that earned him his first career Gold Glove Award. He made strides offensively too. His batting average went up and his on-base percentage jumped too. He also dropped his strikeout rate by more than 4%. The only things that went down were his slugging and his walk rate. He looked much better in 2020, but he still left fans thinking he wasn’t the long-term solution.
Then, 2021 happened for JP Crawford. He finally played over 100 games for the first time in his career, playing in 160. He upped all of his major stats. His batting average rose again, his on-base percentage rose, and his slugging went up. He finally showed the ability to be an above-average offensive shortstop, while continuing to flash the leather repeatedly. He continued to not strike out very much, not chase, and get on base.
Now, what does an extension look like for JP Crawford?
Crawford will be 27 next year and entering his second year of arbitration. He is projected to make a little over four million dollars next year. He will not be a free agent until he is going into his age-30 season. The Mariners do not necessarily have to extend him right away since they still have at least three more seasons of club control. If they want to keep Crawford around, they could extend him where they get a few years of free agency bought out for some more money now.
An extension like this could look similar to the one that Ketel Marte signed. He signed a 5 year, 24 million dollar extension back in 2018. He started out at a million dollars and is now going to make $8 million, but the Diamondbacks have two more years of options that will certainly exercise, and only pay him $22 million over the next two years. The Mariners could offer Crawford a similar deal, but they would have to pay him more than he would make in arbitration now.
Here is my proposal for an extension
The Mariners should offer him an extension where he earns $5 million in 2022, $7 million in 2023, $8 million in 2024, and $10 million in 2025. Those would carry him through arbitration, and buy out one year of free agency for 2025. That is why the Mariners would tack on two club options worth $12 million in 2026 and a $14 million option in 2027. There could also be escalators that pay Crawford $1 million for each Gold Glove award, All-Star nomination, and if he gets any MVP votes.
That would be a good deal for both parties because the Mariners get cost certainty, the potential for a long-term solution at shortstop. JP Crawford gets a 4 year deal for a guaranteed $30 million dollars, which could become 6/56 with the potential for it to be a 6/74. That would benefit both sides and give each other what they want.