Chicago Cubs: Will recent extensions affect young core?

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Amidst one of the coldest free agent offseasons ever, a flurry of extensions for rising stars were signed this week.  Given the circumstances of the deals and the players signing them, how will Cubs players be affected?

Free Agency isn’t what it used to be, for the Chicago Cubs or anyone else. It seems the halcyon days of veteran stars and venerable bench players being valued and sought after for their leadership and clubhouse presence have been replaced by a new age filled with analytics and algorithms. Older players have been replaced by Triple-A or “AAAA”- type guys who only cost the league minimum.

While it’s a convoluted and legitimate discussion (and many, including Adam Wainwright, are having) to have given the landscape of baseball economics at the moment, the free-falling (and failing) free agent market was not the hottest contractual topic on the brink of Spring Training 2019 this past week.

The stories this week (you know, the ones not focusing on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still not having a job) taking center stage were Aaron Nola and Luis Severino both signing lucrative contract extensions that will buy out arbitration years and, ultimately, set them up for life.  Nola, who signed his on Valentine’s Day, seemed to be quite content and happy about taking what many considered a team-friendly deal.

He even admitted he doesn’t play the game for money, and in rare form, put that money where his mouth was at a news conference announcing the four-year deal. It will most likely keep him in Philadelphia until he is 30 years old (A club option for a fifth year is possible and will probably be exercised if Nola continues pitching at a high level).  Severino, a year younger than Nola, signed a very similar four-year deal with the same fifth-year club option as Nola.

While both deals are great for the players and teams alike, given the fact that the players get guaranteed money instead of arbitration and the teams get great young talent they already are familiar with for cheaper than they’d cost on the open market, you can bet the MLBPA did some cringing when the deals were announced.

Why, you ask? Not to belabor the point, but both of these deals come at a time when All-Star players are having a hard time getting paid what they feel is fair market value in free agency.   The deals also come in the midst of labor strife and uncertainty regarding the CBA, which will expire in 2021. Also, these weren’t the only extensions given in the past week; they were just the most prominent names signed; the small-market Minnesota Twins also locked up young position playersMax Kepler and Jorge Polanco, to five-year deals to eat up arbitration years at a relatively low cost.