At this time of the offseason, many clubs are finalizing their decisions on which players are headed North to begin the season. The other focus for ballclubs is examining if anyone should be given an extension. An extension serves one of two purposes, first, to avoid arbitration, or second, to buy out free agency. This article will focus on one player from each team in the American League East who could be primed to receive an extension.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: ADLEY RUTSCHMAN
The Baltimore Orioles have started their ascent up the win curve. That climb started the day that the O’s called up Adley Rutschman. For Baltimore, Adley represents the next wave of talented homegrown stars and the next Cal Ripken Jr for your organization. And with that thought, that Baltimore should offer to buy out Rutschman’s arbitration and some years of free agency. Adley’s presence in the Orioles’ lineup and clubhouse brought with it winning baseball. And that’s all that can be asked for by any organization. Especially an organization that has so much history behind them.
BOSTON RED SOX: ENRIQUE “KIKE” HERNANDEZ
The Boston Red Sox find themselves in a difficult position in 2023. Many pundits don’t believe that Boston can genuinely compete for a postseason spot. However, the Red Sox aren’t as far removed from postseason contention as some might believe. Offering an extension to Kike Hernandez would give the Red Sox stability and versatility. With Rafael Devers already locked in place, the Red Sox should make Kike the next candidate for extension. Hernandez brings the ability to play multiple positions and play them well. For the Red Sox, Kike may not seem like the obvious candidate. But in order to build the foundation for success, you need players like Hernandez to build around.
NEW YORK YANKEES: HARRISON BADER
Playing centerfield in the Bronx has been a position of great heritage over the course of the last century. From Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle to Bernie Williams, centerfield has a special place in the hearts of Yankee fans. The fan response wasn’t great when Harrison Bader was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals. Bader was injured, and Jordan Montgomery seemed to be flourishing. However, when the lights shown brightest, Bader put the baseball world on notice. In four postseason games, Bader had an OPS of 1.262 with five home runs. This type of performance wins over the otherwise callous hearts of Yankee fans. Harrison is set to become a free agent, and the Yankees should use this opportunity to lock him in long-term to remain in the Bronx. (As long as he proves he’s healthy for most of 2023.)
TAMPA BAY RAYS: TAJ BRADLEY
The Tampa Bay Rays have done a phenomenal job identifying talent and securing long-term services. Thus, trying to identify someone on their roster who could be the next extension candidate proved difficult. However, Tampa’s top prospect Taj Bradley is the chosen competitor. Bradley has yet to throw a pitch in the Major Leagues, which makes him a risky proposition for an extension candidate. However, the Rays have been a pitching factory for the last decade-plus, seemingly churning out high-caliber arm after high-caliber arm. So to believe that Bradley could be the next name to bring success to Tampa seems certain. And in order for Tampa to maximize their potential chances for success, they must capitalize on players “on the come up” like Taj Bradley to extend long-term.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: VLADIMIR GUERRERO JR
When it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays, there are a number of candidates that could and should be extended. For this article, we will select Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Vladdy Jr is a dynamic talent in Major League Baseball. The second-generation star is capable of being one of the most impactful bats in a lineup on any given night. Guerrero Jr has also demonstrated the ability to be a leader on his team, despite his age. And it’s with these qualities in mind that the Blue Jays should begin the process of offering Vlad an extension.
A Vladimir extension likely won’t come cheap for Toronto, and that’s another reason to begin the endeavor. Vladimir Guerrero Jr was nearly the AL MVP a couple of seasons ago, and 2023 could be the season in which he officially raises his stock too high for Toronto. So getting an extension locked in before that would be the most advantageous maneuver for the Blue Jays.