That mindset is part of the business, but at the same time can be a total risk. This tactic could pay off, but at the same time it may not. I think it is fair to look at both the risks and the rewards of holding off on signing a long-term deal when being as young as they are.
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Risk: Injuries are unpredictable and can strike at anytime.
While both players have been very durable, there is always a risk of injury. Injuries have derailed many young careers including Tony Conigliaro, Ray Fosse and Eric Chavez. Heck, Ken Griffey Jr. would probably be the home run king (or very close) had he not caught the injury bug for a good five seasons when he was still going strong.
Injuries are nothing to mess with, and with how quick they can happen it is hard not to think about securing your future. The two young stars in Boston may be holding up well now, but things can happen in an instant. Hopefully it doesn’t happen. Betts and Bogaerts are valuable to their team and the future of the game.
Reward: They keep producing and end up with more money later.
It is quite possible these two play even better than they already are, which will bump their value up. Right now, they are two of the best at their respective positions and they would hate to get stiffed out of money because they signed too soon. At 24, there is still a great chance they improve on their already impressive stats.
While both have been consistent in their short time as big leaguers, there is always a chance they were a fluke. Players, like Yasiel Puig, have started their careers off hot and have ended up declining quickly. While this is a rare case, it does happen and should be noted.
Some players got their extension out of the way before declining. Ryan Howard did so and ended up sitting pretty although he put up mediocre numbers. If Betts and Bogaerts were to sign now, their financial situations would be secured even if they didn’t produce. At the same time, you hate for a team to sign guys long-term and watch them decline right after. We will be able to tell soon enough if these two do a favor to Boston by not signing early.
Reward: They can potentially test the free agent market.
The free agent market is where the money is at. If a team needs a slot filled bad enough they will take every measure to fill it, even if that means overpaying a player. Betts and Bogaerts will have the chance to test these waters in a few years. If there is a shortage at their positions when their time rolls around, teams will throw money at them. We see it often.
Teams like the Marlins and Blue Jays (to name a couple) have overpaid for positions they needed filled in the past. If a team is short on a position and the market is slim, they could be in for an extraordinary pay day. With that said, at the rate they are going there probably won’t need to be a shortage for them to get the money they want.
While there is plenty of risk in not signing long-term, there are also rewards because of their young age. In baseball, you hope to see them succeed and play to their potential. Fans of baseball want to see these players become the best they can be and get the compensation they deserve.
On the other hand, you would hate to see a team pump money into something that was premature. Seeing a team give out bad contracts is not fun to watch, although it is part of the game. You can’t predict what will happen in baseball on either side. Hopefully it works out for both sides and we see them blossom into the stars they have the potential to be. Both parties can look back and say they didn’t miss out on anything, from a production or financial standpoint.