The Diamondbacks and Ketel Marte have agreed to a five-year, $24 million extension. The deal includes two option years for $22 million total. The extension was first reported by Robert Murray of FanRag Sports.
Marte, 24, was going to be arbitration-eligible for the first time this coming winter as a Super Two player, meaning that he’d have four years of arbitration eligibility. This deal covers all of those years, one year of potential free agency guaranteed and two additional free agent years if the options are picked up, making it a max seven-year, $46 million deal. Marte is a .265/.319/.361 hitter in his first 249 games in the majors, covering two years with the Mariners and one with Arizona.
This deal follows on the heels of the multi-year extension between the Phillies and Scott Kingery. Like that deal, this one pushes the players’ first true crack at free agency off until past his 30th birthday. Such deals represent a real tradeoff, obviously, as they give the player life-changing money now that, if he suffered a career ending injury, he might never get. At the same time, if the players fulfill their potential, they’ll make far less money than they might’ve had they gone through the arbitration process and hit free agency at the first available time. Definitely a tradeoff and signing those deals definitely a decision that most of us would either make or would be strongly inclined to make in the players’ shoes.
It has been reported that agents and union folks are increasingly alarmed by these deals in that they lower the salary ceiling in the long run and will limit the number of lucrative contracts in the future. That arbitration salaries are set through comparisons to other players and that a rising tide of salaries overall lifts all boats, yes, this is a bad thing in that regard.
However, all of that cannot be put on the shoulders of Ketel Marte and Scott Kingery, each of whom have about as little leverage as possible at this point in their careers. The only way they’ll be less inclined to take these deals is if the next Collective Bargaining Agreement brings salary incentives in line with baseball reality. Specifically, the reality that major league clubs are increasingly relying on younger players who are subject to team control. If players lack leverage and earning power until they’re six years out of the minors, not signing such extensions when offered represents a huge risk.
The clubs have figured this out and are taking a modest hit up front in terms of paying pre-arbitration guys more money now than they might’ve made in order to pay them far less than they’d otherwise have to control them in their prime. The union, it would seem, needs to figure out a way to make that a harder and less stark choice for its members.