Lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s historic contract extension between the Los Angeles Angels and superstar outfielder Mike Trout, was another All-Star position player who has foregone their impending free agency in favor of a long-term contract extension.
As first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, superstar third baseman, Alex Bregman, has agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension with the Houston Astros. As noted by Passan, the deal will buy out two free agent years on Bregman’s current contract, who was not slated to enter free agency until after the 2022 MLB season.
Bregman, 24, is coming off a breakout season in which he slashed .286/.394/.532 with 31 home runs, 103 RBIs, 96 walks, 10 steals and a 7.6 WAR for the Astros. Bregman became the youngest player is Astros franchise history to hit 30 home runs and finished fifth in the American League MVP race. Following this deal, the Astros now have their two most prominent home-grown players, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, under club control through 2024.
In a day dubbed “Extension Day 2019” (Tuesday March 19, 2019), Major League Baseball saw Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels), Alex Bregman (Houston Astros), Ryan Pressly (Houston Astros), and Brandon Lowe (Tampa Bay Rays) sign contract extensions with their current clubs rather than test the free agency market. Over the course of this offseason, other soon-to-be free agents, such as the Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies), Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies), and Luis Severino (New York Yankees), have negotiated lucrative contract extensions in an apparent effort to avoid the trials and tribulations associated with the recently painstakingly slow free agent market.
Indicative of this apparent league-wide shift in attitude regarding free agency, is Bryce Harper’s recently signed (then) record-setting free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, that includes both a no opt-out and no-trade clause so that Harper would never have to be free agent again. Harper echoed these sentiments in his inaugural press conference with the Phillies earlier in March.
Further evidence of this shift in focus, is the fact that impending free-agents Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) and Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox) appear to be actively engaged in contract extension negotiations with their respective clubs.
It remains to be seen how profound of an impact these headline-worthy contract extensions will have on future free agent markets. As of now, with many of the major players already off the board, it appears all but a foregone conclusion that the free agent frenzy that has dominated offseasons past, will not manifest in 2020 or 2021.