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Conceptualizing A Casas Contract
The Red Sox want to get back in the business of giving long-term contracts to their young players. Deals like that take risk from both sides, but secures the player financially for life and gives the team discounted long-term cost on players they have developed, believe in, and trust.
Garrett Whitlock was first in line for a deal just after opening day last season. His agreement bought out his four remaining years of Red Sox control, and gave the team options on what would have been his first two free agency years.
Triston Casas is the next logical candidate, even with only 95 career plate appearances and six full years of team control remaining.
Casas recently told Rob Bradford that he would eventually like to work out an extension with the Red Sox:
“I haven’t thought about it. Nobody has approached me about it. And my representatives have never even mentioned it to [Red Sox GM Chaim Bloom] or anyone in the front office.
I’m just focused on playing this year, and we’ll see where it goes. If it happens, it happens. I would love to stay in Boston the rest of my life. I love the city in the little taste I’ve got of it. I don’t know anywhere else, and I don’t want to. We’ll see what happens in a couple of years. Hopefully we get something done, but if we don’t, we’ll go from there.”
With the Red Sox approaching the 2023 luxury tax threshold, the team wouldn’t be tying an extension for Casas into this season, when he’ll earn 720K. However, it would be in the team’s best interest to tie in his 2024 and 2025 league minimum salaries into an extension, lowering the AAV.
A deal would drastically increase how much he counts against the luxury tax payroll the next two years (currently 740K and 760K), but if the team stays under the tax in 2023 that shouldn’t be an issue, and after that his pay would theoretically reach equilibrium for a couple of years, and then become a discount.
It seems the Red Sox love Casas’ work ethic and believe MLB’s No. 1 first base prospect, and Baseball America’s No. 29 overall prospect, is going to be a stud. If that is the case, this is how I would start building an offer:
2023 is staying as is. 2024 and 2025 are the first two years of his extension, when he would be making the league minimum. The real negotiations with his agent start with his arbitration seasons, but something like $5M/$9M/$13M seem in the neighborhood.
If that’s how 2023-2028 played out, Casas would earn about $29M and be a free agent for his age 29 season. If he goes year to year, his upside would be what Pete Alonso is going to make before free agency, about $45M. Matt Olson would have ended up around $37M, Rhys Hoskins $27M, and Josh Bell $23M.
With Olson's new contract, his free agent years seem like they were valued at about $23M, and Josh Bell got a 2-year deal for $16.5M AAV. When buying out a couple of Casas’ free agent years, $20M per seems like a fair place to start.
Ideally, the Red Sox would want any free agent seasons as team options, but that would make Casas less likely to bite on a deal, so in this version of an offer I included two free agent years as guaranteed.
This spring training: Hey Triston, you are assured no money right now, and for the next three seasons you would play for about $2.2M total, can I interest you in about $69M guaranteed, with a couple of team options tacked on at the end?