MLB Hot Stove: Two of next offseason's top free agents haven't discussed extensions
Neither Josh Donaldson nor Brian Dozier have talked about a new contract extension
Spring training is roughly one month away, and we're still waiting for many of the best free agents to sign..
One theory this offseason has moved slowly: Next offseason's free agent class is dynamite. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the headliners, but others like Charlie Blackmon and Dallas Keuchel will be free agents as well. There's some thought teams are hesitant to lock themselves into a big contract this winter when so many great players will be available next winter.
Two other big name players scheduled to become free agents next offseason, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, acknowledged Saturday they have not yet discussed a contract extension with their teams. Both players are open to new deals, however.
Dozier will turn 31 in May and his 104 home runs from 2015-17 are 10th most in baseball and far and away the most among second basemen. Robinson Cano is a distant second with 83. Rougned Odor (79) and Jonathan Schoop (72) are the only other second basemen with as many as 70 homers over the last three years.
Donaldson, meanwhile, has been an MVP caliber producer for five years now, though a calf problem hampered him early last season. Only Mike Trout (+43.8 WAR) has outproduced Donaldson (+36.2 WAR) over the last five years, pitchers included. That said, he was a late-bloomer, and he'll turn 33 next offseason. Teams may be cautious when pursuing Donaldson. They don't want to buy decline years in bulk.
Inevitably, a few of next offseason's top free agents will sign extensions before becoming free agents, and I think Dozier and Donaldson are more likely than most to sign extensions. The Twins are a team on the rise and Dozier is a core player. Joe Mauer's massive contract will be off the books next year and the club can redirect that money to Dozier. As for Donaldson, the Blue Jays simply can't afford to let him go. Not if they want to contend.
Generally speaking, once a player gets to within one year of free agency, there is no discount when they sign an extension. They get paid free agent salaries. Both Dozier and Donaldson could, at the very least, argue they deserve nine-figure extensions. The real question is whether the Twins and Blue Jays are willing to commitment long-term to them right now.
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