On Tuesday night, Yordano Ventura did what Yordano Ventura does, which is to say he threw fastballs with great velocitation and backed that up with a changeup that Pitch f/x still struggles to classify as a changeup because it is thrown nearly 90 miles per hour.
He struck out seven and walked three in seven innings, backing up his first start of the year where he struck out six and walked none in six innings of work. Granted, one of these starts came against the Houston Astros who, between not winning a lot of games and not spending much money, like to take turns swinging through pitches both in and out of the strike zone. But the other start, and definitively the more impressive one, came against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that is well within the echelon expected to compete for the postseason and beyond (presuming their pitchers stop breaking).
The arguments against giving Yordano Ventura an extension are reasonable. He's a rookie, whose earliest eligibility for free agency is 2020. He's making a pittance (in baseball terms) the next three years. Pitchers, specifically their health, are extremely volatile. He only has five career starts, which is a small enough sample to make such considerations nearly absurd when you consider the number of young starters who have managed a good month or two to start their career.
On the other hand, Ventura has a particular set of skills that don't come around very often. On a team such as Kansas City, who has seen the development of exactly zero starting pitchers since Zack Greinke (and prior to him there wasn't exactly a flowing river of talent either). And though there are some intriguing arms currently making their way through the system, Ventura has a ceiling that would be hard to match. Additionally, if he continues to perform at exceptional levels, his arbitration years aren't going to be cheap either.
The economics of the game are changing. More and more players are being locked up before they get to free agency. In the past few weeks, we've seen Jason Kipnis, Chris Archer, Mike Trout, Starling Marte, Jose Quintana, and most recently Jedd Gyorko all re-up with their respective teams. Evan Longoria signed an extension almost as soon as he took his first professional at-bat.
With the structure of the qualifying offer, this is a trend that is likely to continue for a good while. For a team with limited means, it would behoove them to try and ensure a little bit of solvency, even if it happens to be through the foggy crystal ball of future performance. It would certainly help out their public perception, and might even lend some credibility to an organization that continues to come up on the short end of everything.
So when? When should the Royals consider giving Ventura a deal that buys out a year or two of free agency? Because if things keep progressing the way that they have, not only is Ventura going to be worth it, but Kansas City simply may not be able to afford letting him get away. And though five career starts might not be enough time, it certainly feels like the period of consideration is closer than it ever has been before.