The pre-arbitration extensions for young stars keep on coming. The latest young player to opt for security over maximized earnings: San Diego second baseman Jedd Gyorko.
Gyorko’s deal is for 6 years and will pay him $35 million, with a $13 million option for a 7th year. The deal starts this year, covers what would have been Gyorko’s final pre-arbitration year next year and buys out a year of free agency. The club option is for the 2020 season.
Jayson Stark notes that this is the third-largest payout ever for a player with only one year of major league service time, behind the $58 million given to Andrelton Simmons and the $45 million Ryan Braun got in his first extension with the Brewers. Braun won a Rookie of the Year award and Simmons won a Gold Glove. Gyorko hasn’t come close to either of those accolades to this point, so San Diego is showing quite a bit of faith that he’ll improve.
Gyorko hit .249/.301/.444 last season, finishing 6th in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. After getting off to a fast start, Gyorko missed most of June and July with a groin injury, and he scuffled in the second half, hitting just .226/.271/.449. He did experience a power surge in the second half, though, and wound up hitting 23 home runs — second-most among second basemen, trailing only Robinson Cano’s 27.
While he has struggled to hit for average so far in the majors, the Padres are clearly betting on him figuring it out and becoming a franchise player. For what it’s worth, he did hit .321/.386/.530 across four seasons in the minors.
There’s also something to be said for position scarcity — there simply aren’t that many very good second basemen, so if you think you have a good one, you might as well lock him up. At the very least, the Padres have a bit more cost-certainty for the next six years, which is valuable to a mid-market team.