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Time to begin thinking about a Ryan McMahon extension

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After continuously having fumbled homegrown players, should the Rockies soon look to lock in McMahon?

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The Rockies have a lot to get done this offseason. Needs will have to be addressed and decisions need to be made to find success for both the present and future of this club. Once the dust settles on what’s sure to be a frenzy of an offseason for the entire league, the next order of business for the Rockies should be to begin considering an extension for one of the few obvious core players moving forward: Ryan McMahon.

With Trevor Story widely expected to sign with another club this offseason and Jon Gray now a member of the Rangers, it’s now back-to-back offseasons in which the Rockies have lost homegrown foundational talents.

It’s a trend that the new (ish) front office led by Bill Schmidt will want to put a stop to. They were proactive early and ensured that Antonio Senzatela would stick around for a few more years by locking him into an extension that runs until 2026 with a club option in 2027. They also had C.J. Cron sign his extension early this offseason, as well as Elias Díaz.

At this point in his young career, we know who McMahon is as a player and what he brings to the table. First and foremost, he’s a Gold Glove-caliber defender at third base, second base and... shortstop? (OK, it’s to be determined at shortstop, but the fact they’re even considering it shows how much the Rockies admire his defensive skillset.)

Offensively, he’s proven to be a 20-plus home run guy with high exit velocity stuff and might still have another level to his game if he can continue to cut down on his strikeouts like he did in 2021. The only true glaring mark on his baseball card is his 2020 season after a breakout 2019.

Ryan McMahon 2019-2021

Season AB BA HR OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Season AB BA HR OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2019 480 .250 24 .329 .450 .779 88
2020 172 .215 9 .295 .419 .714 80
2021 528 .254 23 .331 .449 .779 98

At this current point, the decision to extend him would hinge a lot on what you think of his 2020 season. Was it just a tough stretch that was magnified by the small sample size that was the 2020 season? Or was this a sign that he can be overmatched at times and spiral down? His 2021 season hints at the former as he finally built on that breakout 2019 season.

McMahon is now entering his second arbitration-eligible year which means under the current CBA, he’ll be a free agent after the 2023 season. That may seem like a long way from now, but we are just a month away from 2022.

Whenever this next season starts, he could find himself in a similar position as Adam Frazier and Trea Turner were this past trade deadline. If he were to get off to a hot start in the first half of the 2022 season and the Rockies were to, you know... Rockies, you can bet contending teams will be calling to check his availability. With an enticing season and a half of team control and no traction on an extension, the Rockies would be creeping up on being right back where they were with Trevor Story.

There’s also the added layer of the unknown. With the current CBA set to expire tomorrow (Dec. 1), a new one will take its place (eventually) with a new set of rules for teams and players to operate under. One of the points reportedly being discussed in the negotiations according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich is reducing the amount of time needed for players to reach free agency. This could include changing how service time is calculated and potentially allowing players to hit the open market after just two arbitration eligible years instead of the three in the current CBA.

As stated above, Ryan McMahon is now entering his second arbitration eligible season which, if the reported changes were to be immediately implemented for all active contracts, would mean he’d be entering his final year of team control. Obviously nothing is certain, especially when it comes the MLB Players Association and the owners, but it’s an idea worth kicking the tires on. This would avoid possibly having a third consecutive year full of speculation that another homegrown player might be on the way out.

It would also send a message to the fans that the Bill Schmidt regime is determined to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Though that might not be the convincing move, it’s a step towards doing so. McMahon isn’t Arenado or even Story, but he’s certainly one of the most talented players on the current team.

Even if the Rockies were interested in getting something done with McMahon, there is no guarantee that he and his team would be interested in staying in Colorado. He may feel he still has more to prove or just want to keep his options open moving forward into his eventual free agency. With that said and once the new CBA is in place, it wouldn’t hurt to begin playing around with the idea before the 2022 season begins — whenever that may be.