SF Giants: Building an extension with Kris Bryant
1. The Floor
Estimate: five-years, $120 million
Few MLB players have seen their earnings decline more in free agency than aging sluggers have in recent years. While Bryant was one of the best hitters in MLB as soon as he debuted in 2015, he’s entering free agency headed into his age-30 season. He will surely receive a sizable contract, but the years of a player like him receiving a record-setting deal are probably over.
There have been several players in Bryant’s age range who inked nine-figure contracts that never replicated their previous levels of success. In negotiations, Boras will surely see plenty of teams throw those contracts back at him as they try to bring the price down.
The impending labor dispute between MLB and the MLBPA adds another layer to an already complicated offseason. While teams have had a full season of revenue, unlike in 2020, owners will likely try to position themselves with the most leverage possible heading into collective bargaining. Yes, that would be collusion, which is illegal, but we have seen pro sports owners avoid punishment and successfully coordinate such things before. Bryant could find a surprisingly lukewarm market that pushes him to sign a discounted deal.
Furthermore, extensions tend to come at below-market prices. For example, when the Giants extended Hunter Pence back in 2013, he received a five-year, $90 million contract. Later that offseason, outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury each signed seven-year deals worth at least $130 million despite producing at a similar level to Pence over their careers. However, Pence wanted to stay in San Francisco and was willing to sacrifice something in negotiations.
This season, Brandon Crawford decided to sign a two-year, $32 million extension to stay in San Francisco. While Crawford is already 34, it’s hard to envision him not receiving some larger offers on the open market given the MVP-caliber campaign he’s putting together.
A five-year, $120 million extension would slot in just above the contracts handed out to Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez during their free agencies but fall short of George Springer’s six-year, $150 million contract from last offseason. Given Bryant’s age and resume, it would be idiotic for the Giants to turn down the opportunity to ink him to that contract. However, he would have significant justification to ask for more. If the Giants were compelled to do everything they could to re-sign Bryant, what would be the ceiling on a potential deal?