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.