The 2021 MLB season is already two months and a few days old, and now that we have seen players’ skill levels for several weeks, we can start evaluating some contract extension candidates.
These three names are strong bets to sign a long-term extension with their respective MLB teams after the 2021 season.
3. Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are known for extending their young core players before they start getting expensive in arbitration or free agency.
Both contracts are looking like steals for the Braves, who are getting elite production for two excellent players while paying below the market, especially in Acuña’s case.
Now, it’s time for them to address the pitching, and Max Fried has shown that he can be a building block for the franchise.
In 2021, Fried is in his first year of arbitration eligibility out of four, and is signed for $3.5 million.
It’s an ideal time for the Braves to extend his stay in Atlanta with a four or five-year deal.
The Braves need to give Max Fried an extension ASAP
— Emmanuel (@Slaughter_95) August 27, 2020
A five-year deal would cover his three remaining years of arbitration and his two initial free agency years.
He is a 27-year-old left-hander with a career 3.74 ERA in 320 innings.
2. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds
Outfielder Jesse Winker has been one of the breakout stars of the 2021 MLB season.
As of Friday afternoon, Winker is hitting .348/.408/.636 with 14 homers, 39 runs, and 31 RBI.
He is among the league leaders in lots of offensive departments.
At 27 years old, he is in a perfect age to keep producing at a high level.
In 2021, he is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, earning $3.15 million.
If he keeps producing at this torrid pace, the Reds will have a very expensive player on their hands.
That’s why it makes sense for them to approach Winker with a contract extension offer that would cover his two remaining arbitration seasons and perhaps a couple of free agency years.
It could be a win-win for player and team: Winker guarantees his future and the Reds can save some dollars.
1. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Aaron Judge is the New York Yankees’ franchise player.
He has been injury-prone, but when healthy, he usually carries the offense, with the expectations that come with it.
Judge has a career .274/.390/.555 line with 132 homers in 478 games.
He is currently in his second year of arbitration eligibility, earning $10.18 million in the 2021 season.
The Yankees want him in their future, and the player likely feels the same way.
It could be a complicated negotiation because of the injuries he has suffered through the years and the perception he is particularly prone to them.
Aaron Judge said that he hasn’t heard anything about a contract extension. “I’m focused on the season.”
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 19, 2019
But the reality is that Judge is a prime extension candidate because the Yankees won’t risk losing him for nothing after next season ends, and they certainly won’t entertain the possibility of making a trade involving him unless they decide to rebuild, and that’s unlikely.