Cronenworth, Padres agree to 7-year deal

April 1st, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- Evidently, there’s no end to extension season in San Diego.

On Saturday, became the latest player to tie his long-term future to the Padres.

The 29-year-old infielder agreed to a seven-year contract extension that will keep him in San Diego through the 2030 season. Terms were not announced, but a source told's Mark Feinsand that it's worth $80 million.

A two-time All-Star, Cronenworth had two seasons remaining after this year before he was eligible to hit free agency. The extension essentially buys out his remaining salary arbitration years in 2024 and ’25 and his first five free-agent-eligible seasons. It’s the most lucrative contract ever for a player his age or older with less than four years of big league service time.

“If you had asked me when I was younger or even, shoot, two or three years ago, if I’d be sitting up here talking about this, I probably wouldn’t have said, 'Yes,'” Cronenworth said. "But to be up here is definitely surreal. To call San Diego home for the next seven years -- eight years, technically -- it’s pretty special.”

The deal came together in the moments leading up to the Padres’ season opener against the Rockies on Thursday. Discussions began progressing during Spring Training, Cronenworth said. The two sides were close, but still in talks on the morning of Opening Day. Cronenworth said he only learned the agreement was in place after he’d taken batting practice.

“We were hoping to get something done by Opening Day,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. “I think we beat it by maybe a few minutes.”

Said Cronenworth: “[It became] a reality over the last month. But I think ever since the first day I showed up here, with the group of guys we had, seeing how the future was going, definitely it was obviously extremely appealing to me to call this home for a long time.”

The deal is the latest in a flurry of long-term contracts the Padres have doled out. Over the last eight months, that list includes (11 years), (11 years), (six years), (five years), (five years) and Cronenworth (seven).

“If you look at the core group of guys -- and a lot of them are sitting here and hopefully there’s more to come to keep us all together -- I don’t think you could ask for a better group to stay together [with] for a long period of time,” Cronenworth said.

In December 2019, Cronenworth arrived in San Diego as a fringe prospect widely viewed as a throw-in in a trade with the Rays that also netted Tommy Pham and sent Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards to Tampa Bay.

Quickly, it became “the Jake Cronenworth trade.” He made the big league club in 2020, then finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting. In each of the two successive seasons, he reached the All-Star team, and he authored a number of memorable moments in the 2022 postseason -- none more so than his go-ahead hit that helped eliminate the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NL Division Series last October.

In his first three seasons with the Padres, Cronenworth posted a .256/.338/.431 slash line with superlative defense across the entire infield, though mainly at second and first base. His long-term positional fit with the club remains somewhat unclear.

Cronenworth is currently playing first base, with having moved to second upon Bogaerts’ arrival. Cronenworth is capable of playing all four infield spots -- and playing them well. But he was a Gold Glove finalist at second base last season.

To be clear, Cronenworth’s adaptability and versatility is precisely what made him so attractive to the Padres in the first place -- and surely part of the reason they decided to lock him up long term.

“You need a lot of great players if you’re going to win baseball games,” said general manager A.J. Preller. “And Jake is a great player. It’s also the versatility that he provides [manager Bob Melvin]. … He’s just a winning player. For that reason, we sat down and wanted to make sure that he was here for the rest of his career.”

Next up on the extension tour? and are set to become free agents after the season. There’s no indication of traction toward an extension with either of those two (though there was also no indication of a Cronenworth deal coming to fruition until late Friday night).

A potential extension looms largest, though Preller noted on Thursday that Soto has expressed a preference to focus on the season.

“With Juan,” Preller said, “it’s been more about the baseball side of things, honestly.”

With the season underway, it’s entirely possible the Cronenworth deal signifies the end of the Padres’ extension spree. Perhaps the focus now shifts toward the day to day of a season with unprecedented expectations in San Diego.

Then again, these are the Padres of Preller and owner Peter Seidler.

You truly never know.