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Charlie Blackmon signs six-year, $108 million extension with Rockies

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The Colorado Rockies have announced that they and center fielder Charlie Blackmon have agreed to a six-year contract extension. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the club, but NBC Sports has learned that it’ll pay Blackmon $108 million and could be worth as much as $116 million with incentives.

The contract begins immediately and includes two player options, the exercise of which would keep Blackmon in purple and black through the 2023 season. It breaks down thusly:

2018: $12 million + $2 million signing bonus, which basically replaces the $14 million arbitration-avoiding deal Blackmon signed in January;

2019: $21 million;

2020: $21 million;

2021: $21 million;

2022: $21 million Player Option;

2023: $10 million Player Option, subject to various bonuses and escalators.

Those bonuses and escalators, which could bring the total value of the contract to $116 million break down like this:

  • Any season between 2018-2022 in which Blackmon finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in the MVP Voting increases the 2023 salary by $2 million. Any season in which he finishes in 4th or 5th place increases the 2023 salary by $1 million;
  • If Blackmon has between 400 and 575 Plate Appearances in 2022, his 2023 salary escalates an additional $5 million;
  • Those two previous points notwithstanding, his 2023 base salary may escalate by no more than $8,000,000 in total due to incentives, so his max salary for 2023 is $18 million.
  • The deal includes limited no-trade protection, though it’s worth noting that Blackmon will gain 10/5 rights (i.e. ten years total service time, five with his current club) following the 2022 season, allowing him to veto any trade from that point on;
  • Blackmon will also get a hotel suite for all road games, which is pretty common for a team’s veteran stars.

Blackmon, 31, is coming off of a monster 2017 campaign in which he won the batting title, hitting .331/.399/.601 with 37 homers and 104 RBI. In addition to leading the league in average, he led the league with 14 triples, 213 hits, 137 runs and 725 plate appearances. A leadoff hitter with rare power, Blackmon won a Silver Slugger Award, was an All-Star and finished fifth in the MVP voting.

Those accomplishments aside, it’s worth noting how good a deal this is for Blackmon, all things considered. After all, Blackmon still has this season to play before he could’ve become a free agent, and will be 32 when he would’ve hit the market, almost certainly saddled with a qualifying offer. Given the environment out there right now for somewhat older free agents like Blackmon would’ve been, getting a nine-figure deal now, with no one else bidding, is pretty great.

That’s also before you realize that Blackmon likely would’ve faced a steeper uphill climb than a lot of free agents given that his numbers have been put up at Coors Field. Blackmon has some pretty significant home/road splits, in fact, with his career OPS at Coors coming in 226 pts higher than his road OPS. Last year, his breakout year, that gulf was a staggering 455 points. Given that the market has, traditionally, been skeptical of Rockies hitters as so-called Coors Creations, the fact that Blackmon landed this deal a testament to both his agents for negotiating the contract and to the Rockies for locking up a homegrown star.

About the agents: Blackmon switched agencies back in November, hiring the ACES agency, run by Sam and Seth Levinson. At the time that decision led to some weird, snarky backbiting in the media, seemingly aimed at casting aspersions on ACES by claiming — quite unconvincingly, I argued at the time — that Blackmon got a bad arbitration deal. As I noted then, such sniping, in addition to likely having ulterior motives, conveniently left out the fact that ACES is noted for getting good long term deals for players who want to stay with their current clubs (e.g. David Wright, Dustin Pedroia) and that Blackmon is on record wanting to strike a long term deal with the Rockies, preferring to stay with one club for his entire career if possible.

That track record and that desire matched up quite nicely. Now it has resulted on a very nice contract for a player north of 30 at a time when those things are increasingly the rarest of unicorns. Nice job all around, I’d say.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Athletics 10, Angels 0: Brett Anderson — the pitcher, not the lead singer for seminal 1990s Britpop band Suede — tossed shutout ball into the seventh while Stephen Piscotty brought The Power, homering and driving in five runs to lead an Oakland hit parade that beat the Angels Black and Blue. It wasn’t a Wild One, but I’m sure A’s fans Can’t Get Enough of their team winning.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 2: Yasiel Puig is having a heck of a month of September. I mean, yeah, his house has been robbed a couple of times lately, but it’s not distracting him on the field. He got the day off to start the day yesterday but then he came on to hit a three-run pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie and to give the Dodgers a three-game sweep of the Rockies. Puig is hitting .400 with seven homers and 14 RBI in the month of September. Matt Kemp homered too and Walker Buehler struck out 12. The Dodgers, meanwhile, boosted their lead in the NL West to two and a half games with nine games to play. Ten for the Rockies.

Indians 4, White Sox 1: The White Sox carried a 1-0 lead all the way to the ninth inning, backed by a strong performance from Dylan Covey (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER). In the ninth, three different White Sox relievers each allowed a batter to reach to load the bases. The third one of them, Ian Hamilton, then faced Jason Kipnis. On his sixth pitch, Kipnis launched it over the fence in right for a walkoff grand slam that doubled a his 1,000th career hit:

Braves 7, Cardinals 3: Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer and knocked in three on his 3-for-3 day as the Braves snapped their four-game losing streak. They now start a four-game series against the Phillies, over whom they hold a five and a half game lead in the NL East and hold a magic number of six. St. Louis falls and is now three behind Milwaukee for the top NL wild card but holds its one and a half game lead over the Rockies for the second spot thanks to the Rockies loss in Los Angeles.

Twins 8, Tigers 2: Stephen Gonsalves pitched six scoreless innings of one-hit ball as the Twins second pitcher of the day, striking out four and picking up his first major league win. Twins catcher Willians Astudillo doubled and singled in a run on his three-RBI day as the Twins sweep the Tigers.

Rays 9, Rangers 3: Tommy Pham homered twice to give the Rays a three-game sweep. Ryan Yarbrough picked up his 15th win on the year despite the fact that he has only started six games. The “opener” concept at work. I don’t know if that will become a new part of baseball going forward or if it’ll just be a fad. I don’t think anyone knows that yet. If it is he latter, people in 20-25 years are gonna be looking at baseball stats and wondering why “relievers” had such high win totals.

Phillies 4, Mets 0: Zach Eflin and five relievers combine for a six hit shutout, backed by homers from Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera. It’s now on to Atlanta, who Philly trails by five and a half. Seven of Philadelphia’s final 11 games are against the Braves, in fact, so this thing isn’t over.

Yankees 10, Red Sox 1: The AL East race isn’t over yet either. It will be — the Sox only need one more win and one more Yankees loss — but New York postponed that for yet another day, thanks to a big offensive day led by Luke Voit‘s two-homer performance. Miguel Andujar also homered and Aaron Hicks drove in three. David Price was knocked around for six runs — four earned — in five and a third. Luis Severino started shaky — his fist six pitches of the game were balls — but ended up allowing only one run in seven innings of work. New York remains two and a half games ahead of Oakland for the top AL Wild Card spot.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: DJ Stewart hit his first major league home run, Jimmy Yacabonis and four relievers allowed only one run on four hits and the O’s avoid the sweep. I’m pretty sure Jimmy Yacabonis was in Season two of “The Wire,” by the way. He was either one of the dock workers or a henchman at the Greek diner, right? I think I’m right about that.

Pirates 2, Royals 1: Chris Archer allowed one run over seven innings, striking out eight, and Adam Frazier hit a tie-breaking solo homer in the fifth to give the Buccos a three-game sweep over Kansas City. The Royals have lost four straight.

Brewers 7, Reds 0: Jesus Aquilar and Manny Pina each hit three-run homers and Aquilar knocked in four in all as the Brewers knocked Matt Harvey around for seven runs in five and a third. Gio Gonzalez tossed six shutout innings tossed six shutout innings on his 33rd birthday. I think I had to file a summary judgment brief on my 33rd birthday, after which I probably changed diapers and fell asleep at 9:16PM. It was a hell of a Friday.

Mariners 9, Astros 0: Seven M’s pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout. Kyle Seager, Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia each homered but Seattle had already built a 5-0 lead by the time those guys started going deep.

Padres 8, Giants 4: San Diego had a five-run second inning led by Wil Myers‘ two-run homer. Freddy Galvis also homered as the Padres avoided a three-game sweep.

Diamondbacks 9, Cubs 0: Robbie Ray tossed six shutout innings allowing only one hit and three Dbacks reliever combined for three no-hit innings to finish it off. The need not have been so dominant given that Cole Hamels was rocked for seven runs on nine hits in his six innings of work. Christian Walker, Chris Owings and Jeff Mathis each homered for Arizona. The Diamondbacks did this despite putting basically an all-backup lineup on the field with only two regular starters, Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte, getting the start.