MLB Rumors: Jake Cronenworth and the San Diego Padres have agreed to terms on a seven year, $80 million contract extension, per multiple reports.
This is a surprising and kind of unusual deal, I think. Cronenworth, who is 29, was going to be a free agent after the 2025 season before this deal was inked, so this buys out five years of free agency. That’s not necessarily unusual, but usually deals that buy out that many free agent years are with younger players. Cronenworth was going to hit free agency after his age 31 season, after the period that is generally major leaguers’ peak years. This locks him up through age 36, which may well be past the time he’s a productive major league player.
Cronenworth has had an unusual career path. He was a 7th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays out of the University of Michigan in 2015, and was traded to the Padres, along with Tommy Pham, in the deal that sent Xavier Edwards, Hunter Renfroe and Esteban Quiroz to Tampa in December, 2019. Cronenworth has been in the majors ever since, primarily playing second base for San Diego.
Cronenworth put up a 4.1 bWAR in 2022 after having a 4.8 bWAR season in 2021, and has been an All Star each of the past two years. However, his OPS+ has dropped each year, from 129 to 122 to 111, and second basemen traditionally haven’t aged terribly well.
It isn’t a huge money deal, so it isn’t as if it is going to cripple the Padres if it doesn’t work out. That said, committing what would appear to be $12-13 million per year for Cronenworth’s early- and mid-30s seems to be a curious choice.