Padres Editorial: Should the Padres Extend Justin Upton or Ian Kennedy?


March is a time for college hoops, changing weather, green clothes, St. Patrick ’s Day and baseball contract extensions. Yep, you read that correctly, in the past few years more and more teams have locked up players to long-term deals in order to hedge their bets and get their players cheaper than they might be able to in the future.

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Last year big names like Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, David Ortiz and Starling Marte were signed to long-term deals in March. The San Diego Padres even got into the extension fever last year although a little late compared to the other teams, when they signed Jedd Gyorko to a five-year 35 million dollar deal. But could one of the pending Friar free agents be a candidate for an extension? Let’s take a look and find out.

The Padres have eight players set to hit the market at the end of the year (Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, Will Venable, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Morrow, Josh Johnson, Wil Nieves and Jose Valverde) of those I believe two would be excellent candidates for an extension. Those two are Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy.

However with the Padres budget, I would expect that the Friars would only be able to keep one of the two. So how do the Padres’ front office decide which one to keep. Let’s analyze their value and see what player would be the best choice to extend before they are allowed to hit the open market in November.

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First, let’s take a look at their past successes. When I first started looking at the two players it was rather daunting to compare them. First off one is a position player and one is a pitcher which makes it hard to gauge their value. So I decided to look at their WAR to determine how much value they bring to the team.

Each player has played eight seasons, and has experienced success over that time. Over his eight seasons Justin Upton has a career WAR of 20.0, while Ian Kennedy has a career WAR of 9.8. So based just on career WAR Upton blows Kennedy out of the water.

Although, this might not describe their value based on a couple of factors; first because Kennedy was much slower out of the gate than Upton and second due to the lack of depth in left field. So instead let’s look at their greatest single season WAR.

For both players that was ironically when both were with the Arizona Diamondbacks,  in 2011.  Again we find that Upton is the winner, with a 6.1 WAR in 2011 and Kennedy came in second with a 4.8 WAR.  Okay so it looks like Upton is the better player, but does that mean that teams will overpay to get him?

In order to determine which player might garner a bigger price on the open market let’s look at economics most basic principle supply and demand. Of the 217 free agents in 2016, 58 are starting pitchers and 36 are outfielders.

So based on basic supply and demand Upton will be in more demand than Ian Kennedy in the offseason, meaning he will probably cost more. Since that is the case it might be smart to extend Upton now when the Padres are the only bidder and attempt to replace Kennedy in the offseason with one of the other potential free agents.

So based on player value and economic supply and demand it appears it would be prudent for the Padres to extend Justin Upton. Especially since they are a team that has been able to attract free agent pitchers in the past but unable to lure in free agents batters. So what do you guys think should the Padres try to extend Justin Upton before he hits the open market? Or should they try to resign Ian Kennedy? Let me know what you guys think in the comments.

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