I recently got into a discussion about Chase Headley on twitter with one of our followers who happens to be a San Diego fan. His stance on Headley, as well as many other Padres fans, is that the Padres need to extend him right now. That he’s too valuable a commodity to lose. And I tend to agree, he is a valuable commodity, but he’s not going to get his extension (at least not now), and here’s why:
The Padres have always and will always be an organization that counts their money carefully. That’s not to say they won’t spend at times, but they’re not in the business of paying top dollar to a player who is at peak value. Headley is coming off a year in which he set career highs in home runs (31), RBI (115), runs (95), hits (173), walks (86), steals (tied previous high of 17), and total bases (301). He didn’t just set career highs…he obliterated his previous marks. Right now, he’s the kind of player who is going to command a large sum of money, and the Padres, the penny pinchers that they are, don’t want to give up a king’s ransom and possibly get burned by a player whose numbers prior to last season were comparable to Mark Teahen’s.
No, Headley won’t get an extension from the Padres this offseason. The Padres have nothing to gain by signing him now.
This is how it will play out.
Headley will go into the season without an extension and one of two things will happen: 1) he will play just as good as he did last season and the Padres will trade him, as he will be too expensive to extend and the return they could get would be incredibly high or 2) he regresses to the player he was just a season ago and the Padres give him an extension that they feel is more accurate to his skill set.
Fantasy owners need to take note of this, even if it has little bearing on the fantasy season. Headley is the type of player that scares general managers in the MLB: touted prospect that struggles for years, then finally catches fire for a season. Think Alex Gordon. Headley’s price tag in fantasy drafts this year is likely going to be inflated, like Gordon’s last year, and it’s going to sting when he doesn’t give you his 2012 numbers.