Earlier today, we saw Mike Trout sign a record-breaking extension (at least in terms of total dollars and if you ignore inflation) with the Angels. With Trout being the best player in baseball, it was hardly a surprise that he got paid although it was a curious timing given that it is possible, if not likely, that he would have gotten even more if he decided to hit free agency.
It appears that the signings of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper combined with Nolan Arenado’s extension with the Rockies have set the market rate for young, uber-talented players. Now, it looks like another young star in the game is getting paid.
Third baseman Alex Bregman is in agreement with the Houston Astros on a six-year, $100 million contract extension, a source confirms to ESPN. The deal will buy out two free agent years. First was @MarkBermanFox26.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 20, 2019
This deal is an interesting one because Bregman had not even reached arbitration eligibility yet. As Passan notes, this deal is only delays his free agency by a couple of years, but presumably he will be far better compensated than he normally would have under the existing arbitration system while giving the team some cost certainty and Bregman some financial stability along the way.
It is hard to peg exactly why this trend of extending players early on is picking up around baseball. It is possible that agents have gotten wise and realized that players are, for the most part anyways, getting those giant deals when they become free agents anymore and are more open to extensions. It is also possible that teams are seeing the giant arbitration numbers that guys like Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, and Mookie Betts are receiving and deciding that paying players during their prime is a better business decision.
Bregman was stellar for the Houston Astros in 2018 as he posted a 7.6 fWAR with a .286/.394/.532 stat line with 31 home runs and 105 RBIs in 157 games.