Reportedly re-signed 3B-L Kyle Seager to a seven-year extension worth $100 million with a club option (worth up to $20 million) for an eighth year. [11/24]
Let it be known that 2012 was a banner when it came to contract extensions for third basemen. Ryan Zimmerman started the party in February, when he agreed to a deal worth $126 million with the Nationals. Evan Longoria and David Wright later signed their own long-term pacts, a few days apart in November, worth some $100 and $138 million apiece. Such a dizzying pace was never going to continue, but it took nearly two years for another third baseman to join the nine-figure extension club.
That third baseman, Seager, had just finished his first full big-league season in November '12. He wasn't thought to be in the same class as Zimmerman, Longoria, or Wright back then, and the truth is he still isn't thought of that way—those three are or were viewed as franchise players; he might not be Seattle's franchise infielder. Seager did make his first All-Star team last season; however, his national exposure remains capped due to his location in the Pacific Northwest, a region that hasn't hosted a playoff game since he was 13 years old; he turned 27 earlier in the month.
Seager hasn't minded the relative anonymity. He's hit .262/.329/.434 in his three full seasons, demonstrating an ability to hit for better-than-standard power production while walking a decent amount and keeping his strikeout rate in check. His park-adjusted numbers place him among the position's best hitters: Order by OPS+ descending and Wright, Longoria, and Zimmerman rank ahead of him, yes, as do Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez, and Chase Headley. But that's it—and all of them are at least two seasonal years older. Seager's defense is tougher to pin down. Belief in defensive metrics necessitates belief that his glove work has improved over the years; faith in Gold Glove voters suggests the same. In short, Seager would seem to be an above-average hitter and average-at-worst fielder.
Obviously there are some sores to pick. Seager, like almost all lefties, has a platoon split, and there's a chance he eventually slides down the defensive spectrum. Otherwise, you have to dig deep to feign concern about him—like, say, how his strikeout rate has increased in consecutive seasons, to the point where he's added about seven strikeouts per season, or roughly one per month, since '12. The rebuttal to those physical worries is obvious: The Mariners didn't sign Seager through his late-30s; he's inked through his age-34 season at the latest—notable because Jack Zduriencik might have locked up the rest of Seager's starting days.
There's going to be trepidation about handing out a deal of this magnitude three years before Seager would have earned free-agent rights, especially when the cost doesn't seemingly qualify as a discount, and it's fair to wonder if Seattle would have saved money in the short term by going year-to-year. Yet if Seager continues to play like an All-Star, and if the market continues to expand, then this could look like a relative bargain when the next crop of third basemen extensions come due.