I was reading about the Rizzo contract extension stuff earlier, and it got me to thinking about the M's and given that they've now locked Felix up for the future, who might be next and what it might look like? I know there's been a lot of speculation about Morse but I'm less interested in him and more in the two young guns listed above.
Michael Saunders is 26, turning 27 in November. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time next year, and a free agent in 2017. As we all know, he struggled mightily in his first three years with the club, but over the last two years in 160 games (661 PAs) he has 23 dingers, 27 stolen bases (only 4 CS) and a line of .249/.311/.438, with an OPS of .750 that's good for an OPS+ of 112. For perspective, in 2009 26 year old Franklin Gutierrez played 153 games (629 PAs), 18 dingers, 16 stolen bases (5 CS) with a line of .283/.339/.425, OPS .764, OPS+ 105. Due to his superior defence, 2009 Guti was worth 6.6 bWAR as opposed to Saunders 3.4 bWAR so far for 2012-13, but Saunders' bat and base running looks to be better to date.
So far in 2013, Saunders has hit well, to the tune of .267/.345/.480, an OPS .825 that's good for a 134 OPS+, or if you prefer, a .354 wOBA or 129 wRC+. Admittedly this is in a very small sample size (just 88 PA's). However he's done that with a .302 BABIP, which is right in line with the .297 mark he posted last year, and not much higher than his .280 career mark which includes those first three years of struggles.
Guti signed a contract extension for 4/20.25M in August 2010 which bought out his three arb years and his first year of free agency (2/4/5.5/7) with a 7.5M club option/0.5M buyout. If Saunders signed a similar contract it would take him through until age 30 with the option year covering his age 31 season. Saunders would have to provide the value more with his bat and his legs as the metrics don't like his defence in center field all that much, although they like him better in a corner. Either way, I think I'd be quite happy to see something along the lines of Guti's contract, as long as it doesn't come with his health issues, sheesh.
Fun fact: Saunders was an 11th round draft pick. For some reason I always assumed he'd gone higher in the draft.
Kyle Seager is 25, turning 26 in November. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2015, so he's got one more year at all but the minimum ahead, and wont be a free agent until 2018. He put up a .691 OPS in 201 PA's in 2011, and became Boss in 2012, finishing with 20 dingers, 13 stolen bases, a .259/.316/.423 line with a .738 OPS good for a 109 OPS+ and 3.0 bWAR.
So far in 2013 he's bettered that. His sample is almost twice Saunders' but is still small (only 161 PAs), yielding a .280/.348/.462 line, .809 OPS good for a 130 OPS+, which is a .350 wOBA or 127 wRC+. His BABIP so far this year is slightly elevated at .330 against a 2012 mark of .286, career .296.
I'll confess I'm not sure where to look for a potential comparable contract extension for Seager. But if you consider Evan Longoria's first deal would have paid him ~$13.5M over his four (as a super two player) arb years with three club options for 7.5/11/11.5M, offering him something like 5/25 for a pre arb year, three arb years and one FA year still seems like it would be low. A five year deal would take him through his age 30 season.
Fun fact: Seager's middle name is Duerr. Seriously.
With the M's recent TV deal behind them, it seems feasible to me that they can afford to throw some money at the guys that seem to have taken (at least) strides towards showing they can be part of the core, or at least above average regulars going forward. Considering the organisation's lack of outfield and third base depth in the high minors not to mention the lack of third base depth in the majors right now, would you want the organisation extending these guys this year?
What do you think the numbers would look like?
Author's note: I'm still pretty green at this kind of writing/research when it comes to baseball, but I hope this will bring out some of you whose opinions I trust more than my own to share some thoughts. Feedback and constructive criticism greatly appreciated.