An Arenado extension could have ripple effects

February 9th, 2019

The Rockies and are working toward a multi-year extension that would keep the All-Star third baseman in Colorado well into the next decade, potentially allowing him to finish his career in the only Major League uniform he's ever worn.
Although no deal has been completed, Rockies owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort appeared optimistic that the two sides were nearing the finish line.
"I think we've gotten it to the point where we're to the finals," Monfort told last weekend. "We're to the crescendo."
With and still searching for free-agent deals, what might an Arenado extension mean for the two superstars -- and for the rest of the game? Here's a look at some potential ripple effects should Arenado and the Rockies strike a deal.
Would an Arenado extension impact the markets for Machado and Harper?
Arenado -- who is eligible to become a free agent next winter -- and the Rockies agreed to a one-year, $26 million deal last week, avoiding an arbitration hearing. An extension would likely pay Arenado a higher average annual value (AAV), potentially setting a new record for a position player.
Machado and Harper were expected to set that standard this winter, but the 26-year-old All-Stars have struggled to find deals they consider acceptable. According to a source, it's entirely possible that neither player signs before March, so it will be interesting to see whether the Rockies and Arenado announce an extension before either player signs a new contract.
"I wonder if Arenado is motivated [to sign an extension] due to those stars still being out there?" an AL executive said.
'Staring contest' for Bryce, Manny
Should Arenado sign a new deal before either Machado or Harper, his AAV would figure to set an expectation for both free agents, who entered the offseason seeking contracts worth at least $300 million.
"It depends on the numbers, but I would expect the agents to fight to be above [Arenado's deal]," one AL general manager said.
The length of an Arenado extension would also likely come into play; the Rockies star will turn 28 on April 16, meaning a seven- or eight-year extension would take him into his mid-30s. With that in mind, that could strengthen Machado and Harper's stance on a 10-year deal, which would take the 26-year-olds to a similar age.
"It's just another data point for them to use to compare themselves," an NL general manager said.
How might an Arenado deal affect this summer's trade market?
Impending free agents are often the biggest names that get moved each summer; last year alone, Machado, , , , Zack Britton, and were all traded as they headed for free agency.
Aside from removing Arenado as a potential trade target, an extension with the Rockies wouldn't have much impact on the summer trade market. Teams out of the postseason race will likely still look to move their expiring contracts, and for the players, those trades make them exempt from a potential qualifying offer, which adds Draft compensation to their free-agent profiles.
What is next Hot Stove domino?
Of course, if Arenado is willing to sign an extension rather than test the open market, other would-be free agents could do the same. If that were to happen, it could take other premium names off the trade market next summer. With that in mind …
What would an Arenado extension mean for next year's free-agent market?
The 2019-20 free-agent class is slated to include several big names, albeit none bigger than Arenado. If the Rockies extend the third baseman and take him out of next year's mix, might Arenado's fellow positional free agents to be look to ink their own extensions rather than test the open market?
After all, if young stars such as Machado and Harper aren't seeing the types of offers they want, which position players will?
will be entering his age-27 season as a free agent, while Nicholas Castellanos (28) and (29) will also be younger than 30. Still, all three will be older than Machado and Harper are right now.
And what about and , who will be free agents heading into their age-30 seasons? Or (32), (32), (33) and Donaldson (34), who will be in an age bracket where big-money, multi-year deals are becoming increasingly rare.
Many top-tier free agents -- and their representatives -- might view an Arenado extension in a different light, taking the "that's one less guy to compete with" approach. Rendon, a Scott Boras client, could view it that way, as he would be positioned as the top third baseman available in a market where teams, including the Yankees, Cardinals, Braves and Dodgers, could be looking for one.
For Boras' other clients, an Arenado extension is unlikely to move the needle all that much given the agent's history of taking his players to free agency. There are exceptions, of course --  is the most recent example of a Boras client who signed a big-money extension -- and depending on the terms of an Arenado deal and how they compare to whatever Machado and Harper ultimately get, it's possible that players will push their agents to get as much as they can from their current teams.
"I'm not sure reality impacts Boras, but I suppose it could impact the perspective of his clients and maybe some of them push him to do a deal," another AL executive said. "I think it could impact guys currently under control if they get spooked by whatever Harper, Machado and Arenado get."
The AL general manager believes the perception that future free agents might be scared off by the current climate is being overblown.
"Bryce was offered $300 million," the GM said, referring to reports that the Nationals offered Harper that figure late in the 2018 season. "Not that scary."
How would an Arenado extension affect other players on the Rockies?
For starters, retaining Arenado would be another sign that ownership is willing to invest big dollars to keep its homegrown stars in Denver. Last year, the Rockies inked to a six-year, $108 million extension, meaning they will have spent more than $300 million in just over one year to keep two of their core players with the club long-term.
Who might be next? Shortstop recently settled for $5 million in his first year as an arbitration-eligible player, while pitchers and aren't eligible for arbitration until next year. That means Colorado won't need to address any long-term contracts with Story for another year or two, and even longer than that for the two starters.