Update: Headley reportedly will not negotiate during the season, meaning any contract talks will have to wait until after September at the earliest.
Chase Headley's bank account might look a lot better very soon. The San Diego Padres are currently formulating a contract offer to their third baseman that would make him the highest paid player in franchise history.
Headley says that he has not been involved in any contract discussions yet, according to U-T San Diego. However, Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler said Wednesday that a deal will be proposed before mid-season.
Through his first three seasons, Headley did not seem like much more than an average ballplayer. In 2011, he showed a much more improved eye at the plate and posted a .374 OBP. In 2012 he maintained that keen eye at the plate and broke out with his power numbers in a big way, belting 31 home runs and leading the National League with 115 RBI. With good defense at the hot corner, Headley was worth 7.2 fWAR last season. AL MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera was worth 6.9 fWAR.
Currently, the largest contract the Padres have ever signed a player to was a three year, $52 million deal that locked up pitcher Jake Peavy. That came on top of an existing contract with the starting pitcher.
Headley likely does not have the track record to garner a monster contract in the range of a David Wright, who signed for eight years and $138 million with the New York Mets this past offseason. However, Headley has shown early on this season that 2012 was no fluke. He is currently hitting .280/.373/.540 in 13 games after missing the first half of April with a thumb injury.
The Padres have Headley under team control through the 2014 season. His close proximity to free agency should net him a deal that is closer to market value. He appears to be looking at a contract in the range of 5-8 years with an average annual value around the $15-18 million range.
Currently, Carlos Quentin is the highest paid Padre. He is making $9.5 million this season and is slated to earn another $17.5 million over the next two seasons with a mutual option for 2016.