The San Diego Padres avoided arbitration with Chase Headley, the team’s breakout star third baseman in 2012, with a one-year deal worth $8.757 million dollars. That said, they didn’t manage to lock up the 28-year-old who is only under team control through the end of 2014, when he will enter the free agent market still in his prime.
It’s probably not the ideal scenario for both the team and the player, but there some positives that can be taken from this for both.
For the Padres, it buys the club a little bit of extra time to figure out just what it is that they have in Headley, who was a good hitter throughout his career, but never showed the kind of power like he did in his age-28 season. A repeat performance will allow give the team some more assurance that his breakout was, in fact, for real. They could then move towards to a long term extension with Headley before he hits the FA market.
For Headley, the one-year deal represents a significant and well-deserved raise from the $3.48 million he earned last season. Although he didn’t quite turn his breakout season into a payday worthy of a top third basemen in the game, he knows that the leverage on his contract situation will swing completely to his side with one more year of that kind of production.
Though it’s expected that the team will continue to use the dollar figure agreed upon by both parties as a starting point for a long-term extension, there remains the possibility that Headley could become so good that the team will have very little choice to move him somewhere else because of the money it’ll cost to lock him up. If the third baseman is able to repeat what he did in 2012 in the coming season, his trade value, with one year of arbitration left, will never be higher. The Padres have never shied away from parlaying their best players for a big return and Headley could easily be the next name that San Diego ships out of town.
Whichever route they take, the team will certainly have to decide by sometime this year because that value would drop significantly without the extra year of team control. The one-year deal signed today gives them that time to determine where the team will want to go both financially and personnel-wise.
As for Headley, it’s not the $10.3 million that he wanted, but $8.757 million is still a little over the halfway point between that and what the team offered. With an encore to his 2012, he’ll be able to ask for that much more.