Sox won't be locking up young stars anytime soon

Sox won't be locking up young stars anytime soon
February 24, 2014, 10:45 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Everywhere you look this spring, teams are locking up their best young players to long-term contracts.
Thanks to lucrative TV deals -- both local and national -- and growing revenues throughout the industry, teams are eager to lock up their best homegrown players to keep them from reaching salary arbitration and, eventually, free agency.
In the last month alone, the Atlanta Braves have extended five players -- first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, pitcher Julio Teheran, reliever Criag Kimbrel and outfielder Jason Hayward. All together, the Braves have spent more than $300 million in the last month, buying out some arbitration seasons and some free agency years.
The Cleveland Indians recently signed outfielder Michael Brantley to a four-year extension.
And in the last two years, such cornerstone young stars as Felix Hernandez, Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen have been locked up.
So, when do the Red Sox follow suit?
Answer: not anytime soon.
The reason has nothing to do with philosophy. (To the contrary, the Red Sox, under a different GM and different ownership group, were among the first to do such deals. Dan Duquette signed Nomar Garciaparra to a six-year deal after Garciaparra's stellar rookie season.)
It's more about the Red Sox' personnel, their ages and their agents.
On the current roster, the Sox have players who are 30 or older starting at six different positions: right field, (half of) left field; first base; second base; catcher; and DH.
That leaves three positions starring younger players: shortstop (Xander Bogaerts); third base (Will Middlebrooks); and center fielder (Jackie Bradley Jr.).
Both Bogaerts and Bradley, however, are represented by Scott Boras and Boras regularly advises his clients against signing extensions, poiting out that they're likely to realize bigger salaries by going a year at a time, through arbitration.
Boras also counsels against signing away any free-agent years, since he believes that a player stands to fare better when 29 other teams are available to bid on a player. Why give up that option by signing away potential free-agent seasons?
As for Middlebrooks, he hasn't proven himself yet for the Sox to commit to a four or five-year commitment. Moreover, the Sox are high on another third base prospect, Garin Cecchini, who could be manning the position by the second half of this season.
Meanwhile, the team's crop of young pitchers (Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, etc.) must further establish themselves before the Sox can make a longer commitment. One possible candidate for extension could be Felix Doubront who missed qualifying for salary arbitration by mere days last off-season.