Sunday, January 31, 2010

Teams right to lock up young stars

I was heartened to hear that the Minnesota Twins are close to signing catcher and reigning American League Most Valuable Player Joe Mauer to a long-term extension. The National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies have also locked up several young players over the last few weeks.

With the Detroit Tigers working on a long-term deal with pitcher Justin Verlander and the Seattle Mariners signing King Felix Hernandez to a multi-year deal earlier this month, there appears to be an extensive effort in baseball for teams to avoid a nasty arbitration process by signing their young stars.

As a New York Yankees fan, I'd be salivating at the prospect of signing any of these kids when they hit free agency. But I think these teams are smart to try to avoid that possibility by signing them to long-term deals that cover their peak years. You don't want to wait until they hit free agency and watch helplessly as the Evil Empire snaps them up with expensive contracts (I've always liked that nickname!).

Most importantly, I think other teams keeping their young players is really good for baseball. It keeps the competitive balance intact and allows these stars the chance to play their entire careers for the same team, an increasingly rare feat these days.

Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the photo.

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