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Report: Padres planning franchise-record contract offer for Headley

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Chase Headley (USATSI)
Chase Headley figures to become a very wealthy man soon. (USATSI)

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Padres chairman Ron Fowler confirmed to Bill Center and Chris Jenkins of U-T San Diego that the team is planning to offer third baseman Chase Headley a franchise-record contract "before midseason."

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"Will it be 10 years? No," Fowler said. "We're not going to do something like that. But we will do an offer that will be the largest offer we've ever made to a player in San Diego history and think it will be very close to some of the numbers I read in the press ... We want to do what's best for the team. Do we want Chase here long-term? Yes. We're not going to sit here and do nothing. That's not in our best interests. But it takes two to dance."

Headley, meanwhile, told MLB.com's Corey Brock that he has no intention of discussing a contract extension during the season even though he "loves playing in San Diego."

"We made it abundantly clear [before] that we didn't want to talk about it during the season," Headley said. "I didn't think that for me and for the team that it was good to get caught up with all of this during the season."

Headley, 28, will earn $8.575 million this year, his third of four years of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two. He can become a free agent following the 2014 season. At $9.5 million, outfielder Carlos Quentin is the team's highest paid player this year.

Thanks to a career-high 31 home runs and a league-leading 115 RBI, Headley finished fifth in the NL MVP voting last season. He opened this year on the DL due a thumb fracture, but he returned a few weeks ago and is hitting .280/.373/.540 with three homers in 13 games.

Headley is a career .273/.352/.420 hitter in parts of seven big league seasons, but his performance has been hurt by playing half his games in spacious Petco Park. He's a career .241/.330/.369 hitter at home compared to .302/.371/.466 on the road. That's the difference between a utility guy and an above-average regular.

Headley could seek a contract extension in line with the six-year, $85 million deal that the Orioles gave Adam Jones last summer. Jones was a little more than one year away from free agency at the time, just like Headley. Dan Uggla's five-year, $62 million contract with the Braves and Alex Gordon's four-year, $50 million contract with the Royals could be other comparables.

White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy currently holds the record for the largest contract in Padres history. He signed a three-year extension worth $52 million deal with San Diego soon after winning the 2007 NL Cy Young award. That deal covered the 2010-12 seasons. Peavy's $11 million salary in 2009 is the franchise record for a single season.

 
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