Quick Hits: Extensions, Boras, Acuna, Dodgers, Pujols, Cards, Giants

Agent Scott Boras, who brought you the term “swellopt,” has now concocted a phrase to describe team-friendly extensions young major leaguers sign, per Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. “Great young players are getting what I call ‘snuff contracts,’” Boras told McCullough. “And a snuff contract is that they’re trying to snuff out the market. They know the player is a great player, and he’s exhibited very little performance. So they’re coming to him at 20 and 21, and I’m going to snuff out your ability to move, to go anywhere, to do anything, and your value. And I’m going to pay you maybe 40 cents on the dollar to do it. What’s my risk?” In Boras’ estimation, the eight-year, $100MM guarantee Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr., 21, signed this week is “the king of the snuff contracts,” as it hampers the outfielder’s career earning power while giving Atlanta what looks like a sweetheart deal for a franchise player in the making.

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Acuna’s accord is one of a whopping 27 multiyear extensions doled out across the majors since Jan. 21, though the Dodgers haven’t joined the party, McCullough observes. Extensions have been almost nonexistent in Los Angeles under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who has only given out one (Clayton Kershaw’s three-year, $93MM deal after last season) since taking the reins in 2014. But Friedman told McCullough he “wouldn’t be surprised if within the next 12 months we do some.” McCullough points to Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, Enrique Hernandez, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor as potential extension candidates for Friedman & Co.

  • Speaking of Kershaw, the ace left-hander appears to be nearing his 2019 debut. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start Tuesday, which could set him up for a Dodgers return Sunday, Jorge Castillo of the LA Times tweets. The three-time NL Cy Young winner, 31, has been shelved on account of shoulder troubles since late February. Consequently, this will be the fourth straight injury-shortened campaign for Kershaw, whose 162 innings-per-season average from 2016-18 fell well shy of the 215-frame mean he put up over the previous seven years.
  • First baseman Albert Pujols dominated headlines in 2011 when he elected to leave St. Louis, where he spent the first 11 seasons of his Hall of Fame career, for the Angels’ 10-year, $254MM offer. Pujols’ decision came after the Cardinals and Marlins also proposed decade-long contracts worth upward of $200MM. Now 39 years old and with $87MM remaining on his deal, Pujols recently reflected on his choice to leave the Cardinals, telling Graham Bensinger (via ESPN.com): “I felt that the approach that they took wasn’t showing me that they wanted me to be a longtime Cardinal. I believe I made the right decision.” If his rapid deterioration in Anaheim is any indication, St. Louis dodged a bullet in losing Pujols, even though he won three NL MVPs and two World Series as a Cardinal. Pujols slashed an incredible .328/.420/.617, averaged more than seven fWAR per year and never appeared in fewer than 143 games in a season while with the Redbirds. On the other hand, the Anaheim version’s a .260/.315/.452 hitter who has been worth one win above replacement a year and has twice missed at least 45 games in a season.
  • As is often the case with minor league contracts, catcher Stephen Vogt’s agreement with the Giants includes a June 1 opt-out chance, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Giants already have three backstops – Buster Posey, Erik Kratz and Aramis Garcia – occupying 40-man roster spots, which seems to decrease the 34-year-old Vogt’s odds of earning a promotion from Triple-A Sacramento. However, San Francisco’s a fan of the two-time All-Star’s bat and could summon him at some point, Schulman suggests. The former Ray, Athletic and Brewer hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2017, having missed all of last season because of shoulder surgery.

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