How long is seven years in baseball? MLB's 2011 leaders in games played (Prince Fielder), at-bats (Ichiro Suzuki), Wins Above Replacement (Cliff Lee), hits (Adrian Gonzalez and Michael Young) and stolen bases (Michael Bourn) are all out of baseball. Your top home-run hitter was Jose Bautista; your best position player by WAR (Baseball-Reference) was Jacoby Ellsbury. It was a long time ago. Seven years is a lifetime.
MLB teams are always obsessed with team control over players, about having them wrapped up and secured on their club for as long as possible. But here's a fun factoid: Of the top 30 hitters by WAR (FanGraphs) in 2011, only eight are still with the same team now as they were then. (And two of those, Matt Kemp and Jose Reyes, played for other teams in between then and now before returning to the Dodgers and Mets, respectively.) Among the top 30 pitchers, there are only four. Continuity is, in many ways, an illusion.
Thus, this week at The Thirty, we flash forward seven years, to 2025, and attempt to predict, for each MLB team, the player most likely to still be playing for their current team in that season. Some players are simply signed for that long; the Phillies signed Scott Kingery potentially through '26 before this season even though he hadn't made his MLB debut yet. Some players are rookies or prospects who are the foundation of everything their team is trying to do over the next decade. And some are just icons who will end up with a statue by the ballpark someday. Here's a look at the players you should expect to see in the same uniform for the next seven years.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, age 19
The Blue Jays have a lot of questions about their future, but Vlad Jr. will be the foundation they build around.
Yusniel Diaz, OF, age 21
You can breathe easy: Chris Davis is only signed through 2022.
Jesus Sanchez, OF, age 20
Level: Class A Advanced
We went with Sanchez over Willy Adames because he hasn't reached the Majors yet and thus has less service time.
Mookie Betts, RF, age 25
Betts can be a free agent after 2020, but the Red Sox wouldn't let him get away … would they?
Giancarlo Stanton, RF, age 28
It's difficult to imagine the Yankees letting Aaron Judge get away after 2022, but it's impossible to imagine anyone else taking on Stanton's contract, which runs through '27 (unless he opts out after '20, which is highly unlikely).
Francisco Lindor, SS, age 24
I feel a little shaky about this one, considering Lindor already turned down a massive extension offer. But if the Indians lose Lindor moving forward, who are they, exactly?
Brady Singer, RHP, age 22
Level: 2018 Draft pick
Singer is the one Royals Top 100 Prospect still a couple of years away from the Majors, which fits our timeline perfectly.
Casey Mize, RHP, age 21
Level: Class A Advanced
Unless, of course, Jose Cabrera finishes in the top 10 of AL MVP Award voting in 2023, in which case he'll be a Tiger through '25.
Jose Berrios, RHP, age 24
It turns out that the answer here, alas, is probably not going to end up being Byron Buxton.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, age 21
Suffice it to say, the White Sox aren't minding watching Jose Quintana's struggles on the North Side.
Michael Trout, CF, age 26 (turns 27 on Tuesday)
Put it this way: If Trout is not, the Angels might as well raze the place.
Jose Altuve, 2B, age 28
Altuve's contract runs through 2024. No way the Astros are ever letting him wear another uniform. (He'll be 35 in '25.)
Matt Chapman, 3B, age 25
Unless they Josh Donaldson him before then. Chapman looks like a perfect A's building block.
Mitch Haniger, RF, age 27
The Mariners are disturbingly old -- you boys better make the playoffs this year -- but Haniger looks like the sort of guy to extend at a discount before he hits arbitration.
Joey Gallo, INF/OF, age 24
Similarly, with the Rangers in a period of transition, betting on Gallo figuring it out and becoming a more complete hitter doesn't seem like the worst idea. He'll be the same age in 2025 as Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez are now. (And yes, I was tempted to say Bartolo Colon.)
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Ronald Acuna Jr., LF, age 20
Will the Braves have to choose between Acuna and Ozzie Albies long term, or can they keep them both?
Brian Anderson, 3B/RF, age 25
This is a difficult exercise for a team in major transition.
Peter Alonso, 1B, age 23
Your guess is as good as mine, honestly.
Juan Soto, LF, age 19
Still 19, folks.
Scott Kingery, SS/3B, age 24
Unless Kingery is a total washout, the Phillies can extend his contract through 2026.
Christian Yelich, OF, age 26
Yelich seems like such a perfect fit for the Brewers that you can be certain they'll be trying to figure out a way to extend him past 2022.
Paul DeJong, 2B/SS, age 25
DeJong's Spring Training contract extension gives the Cardinals team options on him through 2025.
Kristopher Bryant, 3B, age 26
If Bryant -- the guy who fielded the ball that won the Cubs the World Series -- ever leaves Chicago, something has gone terribly wrong.
Gregory Polanco, RF, age 26
The Pirates have club options on Polanco through 2023 ... he's young enough that it's not crazy to think he sticks around a couple of more years after that.
Joey Votto, 1B, age 34
Votto is signed through 2023, when he will be 40. What's two more years? He'll still be putting up a .400 OBP, I am certain.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, age 30
A pretty tough call, actually; Goldschmidt will be 38 in 2025. But who else on this team or in this system is a better bet?
Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, age 23
Bellinger will turn 30 two weeks before the 2025 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Buster Posey, C/1B, age 31
Posey can play until he's 38, can't he? He certainly won't be playing for someone else.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, age 19
Tatis Jr. just be a little bit older in 2025 than Bryce Harper is now.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, age 27
Only 34 in 2025. If the Rockies can re-sign Arenado, it'll be for much longer than that.