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The Cactus League and Grapefruit League seasons have begun and Opening Day is only five weeks away. Between now and then, several players will likely sign contract extensions to remain with their teams long-term. Spring training is when teams typically get down to business locking up their best young players.

The Boston Red Sox kicked off extension season with a massive deal for Rafael Devers (11 years, $331 million) soon after New Year's. In recent weeks, Houston Astros righty Cristian Javier (five years, $64 million) and New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (four years, $50 million) have signed long-term deals, among others. There will be more between now and Opening Day.

With that in mind, here's the latest news on four extension candidates, and what their contracts could look like should the two sides manage to hammer out a deal. Players are listed in order of their proximity to free agency.

1B Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies

Rhys Hoskins
PHI • 1B • #17
2022 stats
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Years until free agency: 1 (2023-24 offseason)

The player: Hoskins has been a steady middle-of-the-order presence since his MLB debut in 2017, doing so with plate discipline and dingers more than batting average. His 122 OPS+ ranks 20th among all players with at least 2,500 plate appearances since 2018, meaning he has been 22 percent better than the average hitter once adjusted for ballpark and the league's offensive environment. Hoskins is not a truly elite hitter, but he is comfortably above average.

The latest: The Phillies have not yet approached Hoskins about a contract extension, according to The Athletic. Here's what Hoskins said about his contract year:

"To me, every year is a big year. That's the nature of the business, in my opinion. And that's the way I look at it," Hoskins said Monday. "I'm excited about our team, I can tell you that. I had the most fun I've ever had playing baseball last summer and I know we have a really good chance to do that again."  

Philadelphia has signed late-inning relievers José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez to contract extensions this spring, and they are looking into a long-term deal with free agent-to-be Aaron Nola as well. Hoskins will make $12 million in 2023. That will put his career earnings just under $23 million by the end of the year, as he prepares to test the open market.

Comparable contracts: Historically, players who sign extensions one year prior to free agency get free agent contracts. There is no discount. That said, defensively challenged first basemen usually aren't a hot commodity. Josh Bell is roughly a year younger than Hoskins and he received a two-year, $32 million contract this winter. A deal along the lines of what the Phillies gave Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber (4-5 years at $20 million or so per year) appears to be Hoskins' upside as a free agent.

Should the Phillies try to extend him? If he's willing to take a discount, sure, otherwise it makes sense for the Phillies to play out the season. They already have two DH types signed long-term in Castellanos and Schwarber, plus Bryce Harper is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be able to return to the outfield full-time until 2024. Sign Hoskins to a multi-year extension and it will limit the team's future roster flexibility. Play the year out and see where everyone stands in November.

RHP Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians

Shane Bieber
CLE • SP • #57
2022 stats
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Years until free agency: 2 (2024-25 offseason)

The player: The 2022 Cy Young winner bounced back from an injury-marred 2021 season to finish seventh in the Cy Young voting in 2022. His velocity has not fully returned from his 2021 shoulder injury -- Bieber's fastball averaged 91.3 mph last year, down from 94.1 mph during his Cy Young season -- and his strikeout rate has slipped as a result. Still, Bieber adapted to his new reality well and put together an ace-like season a year ago.

The latest: It does not sound like the two sides are discussing a long-term deal, nor does it sound like Bieber is eager to get one done.

Bieber will make $10.01 million as an arbitration-eligible player in 2023. He made $6M in 2021 and, with a typical Bieber season, he projects to make something in the $15 million neighborhood in 2024. Now that he's two years away from free agency and has made a decent chunk of money already, Bieber is in position to bet on himself and play out the next two seasons. That would allow him to maximize his earnings through arbitration and free agency.

Comparable contracts: Two years prior to free agency is prime extension territory, but because Bieber is one of the best pitchers in the sport, there are few comparable players who have signed long-term deals at this service level. Four starting pitchers have signed long-term extensions (i.e. four-plus years) when they were two years away from free agency within the last decade:

SignedYearsDollarsOption yearsAverage annual value

LHP Kyle Freeland, Rockies

April 2022


$64.5 million


$12.9 million

RHP Antonio Senzatela, Rockies

Oct. 2021


$50.5 million


$10.1 million

RHP Jacob deGrom, Mets

March 2019


$120.5 million


$30.125 million

RHP Kyle Hendricks, Cubs

March 2019


$55.5 million


$13.875 million

As good as Bieber is, he's a notch below deGrom circa March 2019, but he's also several notches above the other three pitchers in the table. The going rate for a premium free agent starter is north of $25 million per year these days. Figure $15 million for Bieber's final arbitration year in 2024 plus four free agent years at $25 million a pop, and that's a five-year deal worth $115 million. That's a ballpark estimate for a Bieber extension given where he is in his career.

Should the Guardians try to extend him? Truth be told, it might be too late for Cleveland to lock Bieber up. He might be too expensive for a team that will again rank near the bottom of the league in payroll in 2023. Then again, I thought the same was true with José Ramírez last year, yet the Guardians got him signed. There's a big difference between locking up a star position player and a star pitcher though, particularly a star pitcher who lost a good deal of velocity following a shoulder injury.

The Guardians know Bieber and his medicals better than anyone and it was telling when they opted to start Aaron Civale in Game 5 of the ALDS last year rather than Bieber on short rest. "We just feel like it's the right thing to do for him and us," manager Terry Francona said following the Game 5 loss when asked about not using Bieber. If there's lingering concern about his shoulder, Cleveland may just play out the next two years, then let Bieber leave as a free agent. 

But, if the Guardians are comfortable with Bieber's health, they should approach him about an extension now. That doesn't mean they'll get a deal done -- it's possible the two sides won't find common ground -- but they have to ask. As long as he stays healthy, Bieber will only get more expensive as he gets closer to free agency. Yes, Cleveland should try to extend him.

RHP Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays

Alek Manoah
TOR • SP • #6
2022 stats
IP196 2/3
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Years until free agency: 5 (2027-28 offseason)

The player: The No. 11 pick in the 2019 draft, Manoah reached the big leagues less than two years later despite losing the 2020 minor league season to the pandemic. He has been Toronto's best starter since the day he got called up, and last season he was an All-Star and finished third in the Cy Young voting. Manoah even got some MVP votes.

The latest: The Blue Jays signed Bo Bichette to a three-year extension earlier this month, though that only bought out his three arbitration years, not any free agent years. In Bichette, Manoah, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Alejandro Kirk, Toronto has several young All-Stars they presumably want to keep around a long time. There is nothing to report about a Manoah extension, however. Here's what he told Sportsnet about a possible extension earlier this week:

Given that he isn't eligible for free agency until 2027, "I don't think I'm a priority right now," he said. "I'm under contract no matter what for the next five years and I'm fine with that. I understand there's a system that builds up gradually, Arb 1, Arb 2, whatever the case may be and I'm completely happy riding out that process and allowing the team to go spend money on other guys and me continuing to earn my value and earn what I hope to get one day.

"I don't think there's been any talks about anything. I don't expect me to be a priority right now. I'm under contract either way, so, they really don't need to buy or sell me or anything. I'm super happy with where I'm at and the guys that we're adding into the clubhouse and how the team is looking. That's more important than anything right now."

Manoah is not yet arbitration-eligible and he took a contract renewal the last two years. That means he and the Blue Jays were unable to agree to a salary, so the team renewed him at the salary of their choosing. He'll earn $745,600 in 2023, not far above the $720,000 league minimum. Manoah has enough service time to qualify as a Super Two after this season, meaning he will go through arbitration four times rather than the usual three. That will put a little more money in his pocket prior to free agency.

Comparable contracts: It has been more than a decade since a player with Manoah's pedigree (high draft pick, immediate impact starter who got Cy Young votes, etc.) signed a long-term extension five years prior to free agency. The last was Madison Bumgarner in April 2012, when he inked a five-year deal worth $35 million with two club options. The Blue Jays would give Manoah that in a heartbeat and Manoah would reject it, also in a heartbeat. There's a decade of inflation to consider.

Luis Severino received Cy Young votes in 2017 and 2018, then signed a four-year extension worth $40 million prior to his first arbitration year as a Super Two. That's a benchmark for Manoah. It'll cost the Blue Jays at least $40 million to buy out his four arbitration years, then figure $25-plus-million a year for free agent years. Would Manoah consider a five-year contract in the $70 million range that begins in 2024? He's not a free agent, remember. For a player at his service time level, that's a large contract.

Should the Blue Jays try to extend him? Absolutely. Manoah is five years away from free agency, so this isn't an urgent matter, but the sooner Toronto locks him, the deeper the discount. Severino is a cautionary tale though. From 2017-18, he was every bit as good as Manoah the last two years, then the injuries struck. Severino threw only 140 2/3 innings during his four-year extension, postseason included. Vlad Jr. is the more pressing extension candidate (he's three years away from free agency), but the Blue Jays can do two things at once. Now's the time to see what it'll take to lock up Manoah long-term.

OF Steven Kwan, Cleveland Guardians

Steven Kwan
CLE • LF • #38
2022 stats
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Years until free agency: 5 (2027-28 offseason)

The player: A stathead favorite coming up through the minors because of his extremely high contact rates, Kwan made Cleveland's Opening Day roster last year and put up a 5.5 WAR season. That earned him a third-place Rookie of the Year finish in a stacked American League rookie class. Kwan hit for average, stole bases, won a Gold Glove in left field, and had more walks (62) than strikeouts (60) as a first-year player. He established himself as a core player for the Guardians.

The latest: Kwan told The Athletic he is open to an extension and called being in this position "mind-blowing." He is a former fifth-round draft pick who received a $185,000 signing bonus. Kwan was not a highly regarded prospect and had to keep proving doubters wrong to get to where he is now. There's no word whether the two sides have discussed a long-term contract.

Comparable contracts: Few teams jump into long-term extensions with a player five years away from free agency, but the ones that do tend to be budget conscious like the Guardians. Three position players have signed a long-term extension of five-plus years at Kwan's service time level within the last five years:

SignedYearsDollarsOption yearsAverage annual value

3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates

April 2022


$70 million


$8.75 million

2B Ozzie Albies, Braves

April 2019


$35 million


$5 million

2B Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks

March 2018


$24 million


$4.8 million

It's hard to complain about $35 million, but the Albies contract is the most player-unfriendly contract in the sport. He sold himself short and I'm certain the Guardians would happily give Kwan that contract today, no questions asked. The downside for Kwan is his skill set -- batting average and great defense but little power -- doesn't pay particularly well in arbitration, which hurts his leverage.

Andrew Benintendi, a similar bat control guy with Gold Glove defense, made $18.5 million during his three arbitration years and just signed a free agent contract worth $15 million a year. A five-year contract beginning in 2024 would cover Kwan's final pre-arbitration year, all three arbitration years, and one free agent year. Using Benintendi as a guide, such a five-year deal for Kwan would come in around $35 million. That may seem light, but keep in mind he's very far away from free agency.

Should the Guardians try to extend him? Yes, absolutely. Cleveland pioneered the practice of signing players to long-term extensions early in the careers back in the 1990s and Kwan is exactly the kind of guy they tend to lock up. I mean, they gave Myles Straw a five-year extension last spring, and Kwan's a much better player. The Guardians should lock him too. Get on it, Guards.