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MLB trend to lock up young talent going overboard

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A cautionary tale from a NL West rival

Joe Robbins

I doubt the Rockies were the first to do it, but Colorado made headlines when they locked up Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to long term deals in the 2010-11 offseason.  It backfired a little on the Rockies when Ubaldo Jimenez got upset that he was not offered long term stability which ultimately ended up in a trade, but most have praised the approach Colorado took.  Since that time many other teams have used the allure of long term stability to get young players to give up their arbitration and/or free agency years.

The Atlanta Braves were particularly aggressive with their own talent, agreeing to an eight year, $135M contract with Freddie Freeman, a seven year $58M contract with Andrelton Simmons, and a four year $42M deal with closer Craig Kimbrel.  The Giants joined the trend, giving Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner nine and five year deals worth over a combined $200M.  Even the Padres have gotten in on the trend, giving Jedd Gyorko a five year, $31M deal with a $13M option that will take him through his arbitrations years...wait a minute, Jedd who?

Now as Rockies fans, most of you know who Gyorko is and you may even know how to pronounce his name correctly.  After all, as a rookie last year, he .313/.348/.594 against the Rockies.  The problem for the Padres?  He did better against only four other clubs and is now off to a disastorous 2014.  His OPS+ has dropped from 112 last year to 37.  Handing that much guarnateed money to a one year player was a huge leap of faith by the Padres and may turn out to be a huge mistake.

I do not see the trend of giving young players money decreasing, as arbitration is becoming increasingly costly and can blow up financial plans for front offices.  This is just a cautionary tale that the idea can go too far and potentially cost a team several years where they have to pay a player because of what they are paying him.  Now Gyorko can obviously turn this around quickly, he did well last year and the Padres baseball people obviously saw traits that they wanted in a baseball player.  With my luck, he will probably pick the Rockies to start playing well against.

I would prefer for the Rockies to see how a player plays at least two years to see if they can adjust as the league adjusts to him.  Players like Nolan Arenado and eventually Charlie Blackmon may be the next to the Rockies will try to secure.  I also hope they are careful when it comes to pitchers, as injuries can derail their careers more quickly.