Padres third baseman Chase Headley is in the midst of a career-year. Before this year, Headley had been considered an average third baseman – one that hit just four homers last year. He has always had a knack for getting on-base, but Headley never showed signs that he was a run producer. Many Padres fans deemed him as expendable, especially when the team has top third base prospect Jedd Gyorko waiting in the wings.
2012 has been a breakout year for Headley, as he has hit 19 home runs and 73 RBI’s. A shot at a 100 RBI season is not out of the question for Headley. The Padres have not had a regular 3rd baseman drive in 100 runs since the days of Phil Nevin. Padre fans have held out hope that Headley would be the next Padre extended. The organization did shop Headley at the deadline but decided to keep him. Just like they should.
Headley does not HAVE to be traded by the Padres. Headley will still go to arbitration two more times. He will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. Headley signed for $3.475 million before the season, and the fine folks at MLB Trade Rumors had projected a $6.1 million salary for Headley in 2013. The Padres have shelled out big money to keep Carlos Quentin and Huston Street. The question will be, can the Padres keep Headley as well?
As I have mentioned, Headley is still under team control for two more years. In any extension, the Padres are going to want to buy out one or two free agent years. A four-year deal would keep Headley in San Diego through 2016. The tricky part will be the money.
Before this year, Headley put up solid OBP numbers, but never displayed much power. If Headley becomes a pernial 25 homer, 100 RBI guy, his price tag would climb expontenially. If year three of arbirtation is worth $6 million, then year four might be worth as much as $10 million. Two free agent years might be worth even more.
The starting point for a four-year extension, in my opinion, would be $36-40 million. It is an awfully large commitment to a guy who has only recently flashed star potential. However, the Padres fanbase is extremely jaded, and trading another star player may cause more fans to stay away from Petco Park.
On the other hand, the Padres are not that close to contending. Sure, they have played well over the last few months, but the team is woefully thin on pitching, and they still do not score enough runs. If the Padres are able to obtain multiple players, including pitching, while sliding Gyorko in at third, would that be the worst thing for the ballclub? Headley is a solid player, but not a superstar. If Headley does not accept a deal, the Padres should certainly look at dealing him.