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Padres Must Extend Chase Headley for the Long Term 

Chase Headley - Photo by SD Dirk

Chase Headley – Photo by SD Dirk

The Padres need to sign Chase Headley to a long-term deal.  For the last half decade Padre fans have seen any player worth having on a jersey traded or let go.  With every player that leaves and every losing season the team loses fans.

When Jeff Moorad and Co. took over control from John Moores, the fan base was told the team would build from within, develop, and retain talent.  Payroll was slashed from $73M in 2008 to $37M in 2009.  Since that time fans have watched as names such as Peavy, Gonzalez, Bell, Adams, and Latos have all left San Diego.  The only names that remain on the roster since Bud Black took over as manager are Chase Headley, Joe Thatcher, and Tim Stauffer whom recently signed a minor league deal with the team.

Padres Need to Chase Headley… NOW!

As we all know Petco tends to play fair the second half of the season, which is when Headley was really able to do his damage, hitting .308/.386/.592 with 23 home runs, and 73 RBI.  A monster second half raises the question… Where did this come from?

The obvious reasons: a different hitting approach, and his aggressiveness to turn on inside pitches from the left side.  Let’s dig a little into the numbers.

A quick glance at 2011 shows us that Headley was having a very good first half despite struggles against RHP.

AVG/OBP/SLG    G             H             R             2B           HR          RBI        BB          K

2011       .299/.391/.401     89           91           34           25           2              31           45           70

2012       .267/.368/.413     86           84           39           20           8              42           37           76

Just a quick glance would appear as though Headley traded in some OBP and doubles for a few long balls.  Both solid numbers, not eye popping, but solid.  On August 7th, 2011 Headley fractured his pinky sliding headfirst into second base.  He rushed back to return for the last week of the season, but only hit .200 with no extra base hits and 6 strikeouts in those final five games.  Could Headley have had a break-out second half in 2011?  We will never know, but not being able to play at full strength in August and September certainly did hurt his numbers, especially his power numbers.

AVG/OBP/SLG    G             H             R             2B           HR          RBI        BB          K

2010       .289/.334/.432     81           91           41           17           8              33           22           64

2011       .330/.399/.465     54           66           28           18           3              30           23           46

2012       .300/.395/.541     80           91           48           15           18           64           49           81

Above you will see Chase Headley’s numbers on the road over the last three seasons.  When you project those numbers out over 162 games, here is what you get as an average over the last three seasons in comparison to the best third basemen in baseball:

AVG/OBP/SLG    G             H             R             2B           HR          RBI        BB          K

Headley                 .303/.374/.480     162         186         88           38           22           95           71           143

*Rodriguez           .272/.351/.468     163         168         98           31           29           111         72           134

*Wright                  .285/.365/.480     162         173         93           40           25           101         79           145

*Zimmerman       .292/.363/.480     163         184         97           38           26           96           70           120

*Sandoval            .287/.339/.464     163         171         76           37           21           85           51           88

*Longoria             .275/.365/.507     163         166         97           39           32           117         84           126

*Beltre                   .314/.353/.558     162         197         98           43           36           116         38           81

My point is simple, take Petco National Park out of the equation and over the last three seasons Chase Headley is in the conversation of the best third basemen in baseball.  I’ll also point out that most if not all of the players listed have a much better supporting cast than Headley has had over the last three seasons.  People should not be surprised about Headley’s breakout season, he’s been putting up great numbers outside of Petco most of his career.

Evan Longoria is only one year younger than Chase Headley and this offseason inked a six-year/$100M extension that will keep him a Ray through 2023 (age 38).

David Wright is 18 months older than Headley and signed an eight-year/$138M extension to keep him a Met through 2020 (age 38).

Adrian Beltre at the age of 31 signed as five-year/$80M with a vesting option for $16M for a sixth year, which would mean Beltre would be 37 at the end of his contract.

What does that mean for Chase Headley?  Teams around the league are paying a premium for third basemen and are not concerned about signing players through the age of 35 and later.  When you look at big market teams that need someone to man the hot corner, such as the Dodgers, Angels, White Sox, Phillies, Braves, Cubs, and possibly the Yankees, Headley is going to be in for a big payday, which will include a long-term deal.

Fans in San Diego may talk about a 4yr/$50 deal for Headley, but the way the market is shaping up now, if Headley continues to do what he’s been doing, he will be in for a contract that will far exceed that in terms of dollars and years.

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Outside of his performance at the plate, Headley is great in the field, winning his first gold glove this year, he is a tireless worker, and is a respected leader in the clubhouse.  He’s the guy you can feel good building with/around and he’s homegrown.

After coming to an agreement on a one-year/$8.575M deal for 2013, the Padres will control Headley’s rights through 2014.  A solid follow up season could line the NL silver slugger winner up for a large payday once he hits the free agent market.

As we have seen teams are leveraging TV money to expand team payrolls.  With the lucrative deals that MLB has signed with Fox, Turner, and ESPN, starting in 2014, MLB will pull in an average of $1.55B annually (double the current amount) over the next eight years.  That money will be spread over the 30 teams.  Combine that with the individual team TV contracts and player salaries are only going to rise.

Is signing Chase Headley to a long-term extension a risk?  Yes, all long term contracts pose some risk.

It is however, a risk worth taking for this new ownership group.  It shows that they will keep promises about retaining players and they are committed to winning.

Personally, I’m not a fan of over-spending, but if you are going to spend a few million extra on a guy, I can’t think of a player on this roster I’d feel more comfortable spending that money on than Chase Headley.

*Stats provided by baseballreference.com

Photo by: SD Dirk, creative commons 2.0

Comments

comments

About the author: Steve Adler

Steve is the founder of Friarhood.com. A native San Diegan, he grew up watching Dan Fouts and Tony Gwynn. A former sports talk show host, but always a fan of the Padres and Chargers.

  • Dave Reeder

    I agree. Have been asking for a long term contract for Headley for two years. He is a leader and a producer. Get it done Byrnes!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=139901190 Brandon Cline

    You definitely make a solid argument and I would definitely like to see Headley remain wearing “Padres” across his chest well beyond 2014 but the pessimism (read cynicism) in me says that we will hear a lot of Headley being shopped around as August approaches this season to large(r) markets. Only when I see the ink drying on the new Headley contract will I believe the new owners’ commitment to retaining star players.

  • Jack

    The argument could also be made that with the kind of production Chase is putting out there he could net the Padres a slew of prospects in a trade. The prospects could, in theory, put the squad in a position to compete for a longer period of time with a cheaper payroll. The Pads r a small market team pure and simple and I don’t see them spending the type of money you’re talking about for one player. It might make sense to us but I don’t see them doing it.

  • http://www.friarhood.com/ Steve Adler

    I want to apologize for the softness of the charts. Normally I put them in excel and paste them in, this time I used word and after it posted on the site, looked terrible. My apologies.

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  • Mr Hellbound

    charts or no charts, why is there this unncessary urgency to give this kid a heap of money, RIGHT NOW?..I dont get that train of thought.

    And the constant urging of ownership to extend him is kinda silly to me..

    Granted, ownership did not give any of us a Xmas present of diference makers…and I dont see that happening in the forseeable future. But last I checked, Headley was actually moving BACKWARDS, with his homerun totals, until he broke out, AFTER THE TRADE DEADLINE, last year.

    but we’re supposed to give him all this money, because his stats, comp’ favorably to some other 3rd basemen?.

    Longoria, Wright and Beltre’ have more than proved their worth in the big leagues…sorry, I cannot say the same for Chase.

    And furthermore, Petco Park is a pitchers ballpark, not a hitters ballpark, even with the walls being reconstructed. 1 + 1= 2…this is common sense, to me. The only guy, since they’ve moved downtown, to get a BIG extension, was a pitcher (Jake P)…and where is he now.

    anyone with two brain cells, knew that he wasnt gonna be here long enuf to see the back end of that extension. And he was a pitcher, not a hitter!!

    Adrian Gonzalez..remember him?..5 seasons here?…basically the Padre MVP since his arrival to his departure, two seasons ago?…did he not leave here without an extension?.

    but we’re supposed to give one to a guy, who in the eyes of many, developed later than the front office wanted, and to boot, started hitting homers, left and right, OUT OF NOWHERE.

    I dont think this kid used PEDs, but one huge hot streak should not put ownership between two rocks, to hurry up and extend him. If he gets the money and then flops, because he already hit his celing, the suits will look like jackasses and the fans who pushed for the extension will act like they never said anything about wanting him extended.

    I saw his impending trade coming as soon as last season ended. This is the Padres way..

    they are basically looking for younger talent (younger than Chase) to do what Chase did last season, albeit earlier than Chase did it. Why?..because they’ll reap the benefits of very cheap talent producing in a way that would otherwise be costly, if it were a veteran having a break out season.

    its called acquiring studs who are available at bargain basement prices…You never know…you get enuf of them producing at the same time, and you might find yourself in the post season, with a bunch of kids that essentially cost you a bag of peanuts

    it smells a little shady and cheap…but in the World of the front office, its just smart business.

    • http://www.friarhood.com/ Steve Adler

      Why? Pretty simple actually. Because if he comes close to repeating then Headley would expect a contract similar to Wright and Longoria, which has little chance of happening given the current state of the ownership group. If you are going to sign him, it needs to be sooner while you have the controllable years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Danny.Rocks.Mountain.Tops Daniel Vollmer

    he won’t get extended. The front office, the new ownership already lied to us. They made it seem as if they’d get a couple front line starters to shore up our rotation..what did they do? they signed a Freddy Garcia to “compete” for the starting job and resigned Marquis to a one year deal. Last time I checked, those two weren’t front line starters. The ownership got our hopes up already, not a great first impression…Here we go again!

  • http://twitter.com/jcortizmd J.C. Ortiz

    Well said Steve! Extension is a no brainer.

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