Carlos Gonzalez close to $80 million extension with Rockies

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Over the weekend Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported that Carlos Gonzalez was close to signing a long-term contract extension with the Rockies worth as much as $80 million.

Initially the Colorado-based media was pretty quiet about the possibility, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post just tweeted that he “would be surprised if deal doesn’t get done” and pegged the details as $80 million for seven years.

Gonzalez won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2012, so a seven-year contract would cover his final season of pre-arbitration, all three seasons of arbitration, and his first three seasons of free agency. By comparison the six-year, $119 million extension teammate Troy Tulowitzki signed recently covers only free agent seasons, which is why Gonzalez’s deal is so much cheaper.

Acquired from the A’s in 2008 as part of the Matt Holliday package, Gonzalez won the batting title as a 24-year-old last season, hitting .336 with 34 homers, 117 RBIs, 26 steals, and a .974 OPS. Coors Field inflated his raw numbers significantly, as Gonzalez hit .289 with a .775 OPS on the road compared to .380 with a 1.161 OPS at home, but he’s an elite all-around outfielder and one of baseball’s premier young players.

Colorado now has two young superstars locked up through at least 2017, but their previous long-term commitments to Todd Helton and Mike Hampton turned sour well before the end of those massive contracts and there’s plenty of risked involved in committing $200 million to Gonzalez and Tulowitzki when they were both already under team control through 2014 anyway.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.