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Other stars who could be in line for extensions

@feinsand
March 5, 2020

Christian Yelich’s extension with Milwaukee will keep the 2018 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner in a Brewers uniform for years to come, adding Yelich to an exclusive club of players signed through 2028. That group includes just four other players: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole and Manny

Christian Yelich’s extension with Milwaukee will keep the 2018 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner in a Brewers uniform for years to come, adding Yelich to an exclusive club of players signed through 2028.

That group includes just four other players: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole and Manny Machado. That’s it.

Who could be the next player to ink a lengthy, lucrative extension with their current club? Here are eight candidates (listed alphabetically):

Javier Báez, SS, Cubs, age 27
Eligible for free agency after the 2021 season

For much of the winter, we heard that the Cubs were open to the idea of trading just about anybody on their team. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber were involved in one trade rumor after another, yet Javier Báez's name was rarely (ever?) mentioned. There was even some buzz in November that the Cubs and Báez's agents were engaging in some preliminary extension talks. He’s arbitration-eligible for one more year after this season, after which he’ll be part of the incredible free-agent shortstop class that includes Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story.

Cody Bellinger, OF, Dodgers, age 24
Eligible for free agency after the 2023 season

Cody Bellinger doesn’t even have three full years of service time, yet he’s collected both the NL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards during his three years with the Dodgers. Kris Bryant -- who, like Bellinger, is represented by Scott Boras -- was in an identical situation and has gone year-to-year with the Cubs. Bellinger, who broke Bryant’s first-year arbitration record with an $11.5 million deal this past winter, seems unlikely to give the Dodgers a discount to sign a long-term deal early the way Yelich did, but Los Angeles could try to buy out his three remaining arbitration years with a multiyear deal. And while Boras has a reputation for steering his clients to free agency, it’s worth noting that some of his big clients have signed extensions with their clubs before free agency, notably Stephen Strasburg in 2016.

Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox, age 23
Eligible for free agency after the 2023 season

Rafael Devers hasn’t even reached his arbitration years, the first of which won’t come until after this season. The Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price to clear payroll and get beneath the luxury tax threshold, but the club also handed out extensions to Chris Sale (five years, $145 million) and Xander Bogaerts (six years, $120 million) a year ago. Devers busted out last year, posting a .916 OPS with 32 homers, 115 RBIs and an American League-high 54 doubles. Another big year by the third baseman might prompt the Red Sox to try locking him up.

Yoán Moncada, 3B, White Sox, age 24
Eligible for free agency after the 2023 season

Yoán Moncada had his breakout season in 2019, posting a .915 OPS and 141 OPS+ in 132 games. There had been some recent talk of a potential extension for the infielder, who won’t be arbitration-eligible until the end of the upcoming season, and sources have told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that a five-year extension is in place. Chicago has signed Eloy Jiménez (six years, $43 million), Luis Robert (six years, $50 million) and Aaron Bummer (five years, $16 million) to extensions over the past 12 months, though neither Jiménez nor Robert had spent a day in the Majors when they got their deals.

Juan Soto, OF, Nationals, age 21
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

Still just 21 years old, Juan Soto will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter, the first of four arbitration years for the Nationals’ star. Washington opted to let both Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon leave via free agency, but Soto might be the star the club chooses to sign for the long haul. Ronald Acuña Jr. inked an eight-year, $100 million extension with the Braves last year, but Soto -- who, like Harper and Rendon is repped by Boras -- will surely command bigger dollars to sign a long-term deal. If Soto -- who has a .403 OBP and a 140 OPS+ over his first two years -- continues to rake, Washington might do what is necessary to make sure he remains the face of the franchise for years to come.

Trevor Story, SS, Rockies, age 27
Eligible for free agency after the 2021 season

Trevor Story signed a two-year, $27.5 million deal this winter, guaranteeing that he won’t go to an arbitration hearing before he hits free agency. The Rockies have done big-money extensions with Nolan Arenado (eight years, $260 million) and Charlie Blackmon (six years, $108 million), though the current situation with Arenado could complicate matters. If Arenado is traded, the Rockies could decide to try locking up Story to a long-term deal rather than risking him walking away as a free agent in two years.

Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres, age 21
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

With Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer signed for big money through 2028 and ’25, respectively, the Padres could wait to try extending Fernando Tatis Jr. , who won’t be arbitration-eligible until the end of the 2021 season. But as Tatis moves closer to his potential free agency each year, the likelihood of him signing a long-term deal could decrease if he continues his ascent to stardom.

Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees, age 23
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

New York has changed its stance on extensions in recent years, handing out multiyear pacts to Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino last year. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez each have two years of arbitration-eligibility remaining, but Judge’s injury issues and Sanchez’s defensive questions make it unlikely that either will be extended. Gleyber Torres is four years younger than Sanchez and five years younger than Judge, and with two All-Star appearances in his first two seasons, he has emerged as a bona fide star. Torres will enter his first year of arbitration after the upcoming season, so the idea of buying out his arbitration years along with multiple free-agent years could be appealing to the Yankees.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.