These are top candidates for next long-term extension

February 10th, 2024

Extensions have been all the rage this week.

's 11-year, $288.7 million deal locked in the emerging superstar with the Royals well into the next decade, while 's five-year, $125 million extension all but assures that the eight-time All-Star will finish his career with the Astros.

Which leads to the obvious question: Who’s next?

Not all extensions are created equally. Some are designed to lock up young talent well in advance of arbitration and/or free agency, while others are meant to keep a potential free agent in his current uniform into the twilight of his career.

Here’s a look at 18 players (listed alphabetically) who could be candidates for the next notable extension:

, 1B, Mets, age 29
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

Alonso ranks first in the Majors with 192 home runs and 498 RBIs since he debuted in 2019, belting no fewer than 37 homers in each full season he’s played (not to mention 16 homers in the COVID-shortened 2020 season). With each passing day, it seems less and less likely that the Mets and Alonso will reach an extension before Opening Day, and Alonso will probably test free agency. The Mets went this route with Brandon Nimmo, another homegrown player, a couple of years ago, and ended up re-signing him as a free agent. Even if Alonso doesn’t reach an extension, don’t rule out him staying with the Mets long term.

, C, Mets, age 22
Eligible for free agency after the 2028 season

Alvarez slugged 25 home runs in 123 games during his impressive rookie campaign, ranking in the top five percent of the league in framing according to Statcast. As previously mentioned, the Mets will have a big decision to make with Alonso, but locking up Alvarez – who isn’t even arbitration-eligible for two more years – as their long-term answer behind the plate would give New York certainty at one of the most demanding positions on the field.

, SS, Blue Jays, age 25
Eligible for free agency after the 2025 season

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B/DH, Blue Jays, age 24
Eligible for free agency after the 2025 season

We’re going to slightly break our alphabetical order here to group these two together since their situations are so similar. Toronto’s two franchise players are both slated to become free agents at the end of the 2025 season, so while it might be a stretch to think the Blue Jays will be able to sign both Bichette and Guerrero Jr. to extensions before they hit the open market, it’s quite possible they could make a push to get a deal done with one of them. Which player would the club prioritize? That’s the nine-figure question.

, 3B, Astros, age 29
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

Having extended Altuve through his age-39 season, the Astros could now look to secure Bregman’s services beyond 2024, as he’s set to become a free agent at the end of the year. Bregman is in the final year of the five-year, $100 million extension he signed in March 2019, and the Astros lifer has been a key component to Houston’s success since 2016. Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Josh Hader and Cristian Javier are all signed through at least 2027, but the Astros could have Justin Verlander’s $43.3 million salary coming off the books at the end of the upcoming season – he will earn a $35 million player option for 2025 if he throws 140 innings and finishes the year healthy, so at worst, his contract would end after 2025 – giving them some flexibility to lock up Bregman.

, RHP, Orioles, age 29
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

Baltimore acquired the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner last week, finally landing the ace the Orioles have been looking for. But will he call Camden Yards home for more than one season? Burnes seems likely to test free agency given the contracts that top starting pitchers are commanding, but the Orioles are in the unique position of being a contender with a low payroll, giving their new ownership group a chance to make a splash by locking up Burnes with a long-term deal.

, OF, Rangers, age 21
Eligible for free agency after the 2029 season

, 3B, Rangers, age 25
Eligible for free agency after the 2028 season

Carter and Jung played an integral role in Texas’ World Series run last fall, and while the Rangers have , and locked up at big salaries until at least 2028, extending either or both of their young hitters through their arbitration years (or beyond) would give the club some cost certainty going forward.

, 1B, Cardinals, age 36
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

Goldschmidt is slated to become a free agent at the end of this season, but much like Altuve and the Astros, St. Louis could look to extend the 2022 NL Most Valuable Player to keep him in a Cardinals uniform for the rest of his career. Goldschmidt’s numbers declined slightly in 2023, so perhaps the Cardinals will wait to see how he plays in 2024 before trying to extend him beyond this year.

, INF, Orioles, age 22
Eligible for free agency after the 2028 season

, C, Orioles, age 26
Eligible for free agency after the 2027 season

Two key contributors of the Orioles’ young core, Rutschman and Henderson are still several years away from free agency. But just as the Royals extended Witt to assure his presence in Kansas City for the next decade, the Orioles could try locking up one (or both) of their budding superstars to guarantee they’ll be calling Camden Yards home for years to come. Top prospect , who is primed to make his debut in 2024, could also fall into this category.

, OF, Rockies, age 25
Eligible for free agency after the 2027 season

, SS, Rockies, age 22
Eligible for free agency after the 2027 season

Jones and Tovar each produced solid rookie seasons for the Rockies, registering 4.4 and 2.5 WAR, respectively. Colorado has a long history of signing its homegrown players to extensions, doing so with , Carlos Gonzalez, , , German Márquez and among others. It remains to be seen whether the Rockies can extend both youngsters, but keeping their young talent in Colorado figures to be a goal for the club.

, C, D-backs, age 23
Eligible for free agency after the 2028 season

Moreno’s cannon of an arm helped him win a Gold Glove in his rookie season, while he posted an .852 OPS with three homers to help the D-backs get to the World Series, showing his ability to thrive on the biggest stage. Arizona already gave Corbin Carroll an eight-year, $111 million extension that will keep him under club control through 2031, so why not lock up another of their young stars?

, 1B, Guardians, age 26
Eligible for free agency after the 2025 season

Naylor will earn $6.5 million in 2024 and is arbitration-eligible for a fourth and final time next offseason, giving Cleveland two years of club control. Naylor had his best season in 2023, hitting 17 home runs with 97 RBIs and an .842 OPS in 121 games, receiving a down-ballot MVP vote for his work. The Guardians don’t have many players locked up long term – (2028) and (2029) are the only ones of note – so extending Naylor to keep him on the roster through the end of the decade might make sense.

, C, Dodgers, age 28
Eligible for free agency after the 2025 season

Since breaking into the Majors in 2019, Smith has been to the postseason five times, won a World Series ring, been selected to the All-Star Game and established himself as one of the top catchers in the game. Smith will earn $8.55 million in 2024 after avoiding arbitration, and he’ll be eligible for arbitration again next winter, giving the Dodgers control through his age-30 season. Will Los Angeles plan on turning over catching duties to top prospect Diego Cartaya, who struggled at Double-A last season, or would the club prefer to lock up Smith for the long-term future, enabling them to use Cartaya as a trade chip? Cartaya’s success (or lack thereof) in 2024 could help make that decision for the Dodgers.

, OF, Yankees, age 25
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

The Yankees made a big deal to acquire Soto this offseason, and while it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the three-time All-Star spend the next decade in the Bronx, it seems like a stretch to believe an extension is in the cards. Soto will be targeting one of the biggest free-agent deals in history, and even if the Yankees choose to engage in extension talks, the slugger and his agent, Scott Boras, are unlikely to offer any discounts prior to free agency.

, RHP, Phillies, age 33
Eligible for free agency after the 2024 season

Wheeler has been a rock in the Phillies’ rotation since he joined the club in 2020, going 43-25 with a 3.06 ERA in 101 starts. With Aaron Nola locked up for the next seven seasons, sources say that Philadelphia’s No. 1 priority now is to extend Wheeler, who is set to become a free agent next winter. Wheeler, who is finishing a five-year, $118 million contract, could seek a / type of deal: a shorter term with a high average annual value worth $40 million or more.