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3:58 p.m., Feb. 19
The Padres held a press conference on Tuesday to formally announce the signing of Will Venable to a 2-year contract. While the Padres don’t discuss the money part of their contracts, it is reported and various sources say that it’s worth a total of $8.5 million over the two years, or $4.25 million per year.
Venable, 30, has been with the Padres big club since 2008, and has hit a career high 20 home runs this season. It is a good contract for the Padres because they don’t have to run the risk of Venable making more money in the arbitration process, as Will still has two years left on his status as arbitration eligible, which becomes a moot point thanks to this deal.
For Venable, it was an opportunity to gain a couple of years of stability and security. Will said he was grateful to the Padres organization for the opportunity.
General Manager Josh Byrnes was there along with Peter Seidler representing the ownership group. Everyone seems to be happy with this agreement, which is typical in a Padres press conference.
Venable made $2,675,000 this season on a one year contract. His numbers in 2012 were pedestrian, hitting .264 with 9 home runs and 45 runs batted in.
Currently, Will is hitting .273 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI’s, so if an agreement couldn’t be reached for 2014 and the process went to arbitration, it isn’t out of the question that he could get close to $4 million were that to have happened. So, this is really all about Venable being willing to hedge his value in 2015 against his performance in 2014, knowing that he’s a free agent in 2016.
However, Venable will be 33 years old by then. Not many teams are willing to sign players of that age to long-term contracts for big money unless if Will continues to blossom.
I asked Byrnes two questions in the press conference, hoping to get answers that would inadvertently shed a little light on the Padres organizational attitude going into the next two seasons. One question I asked was if part of the negotiations included any team or player options beyond 2015.
Options in a player contract are either team options, player options, or mutual options on extending the contract beyond what is guaranteed. Most of the time, such options are declined, but they are usually a useful tool in negotiating and occasionally the options are picked up.
Byrnes confirmed that options were part of the negotiations with the Venable camp, but that they could reach no agreement on them. This is important to note because neither side has any leverage once Will becomes a clear free agent in 2016, whether he falls on tough times or goes nuts and lights the league on fire.
The other question I asked Josh was that since he had now locked up Venable and Carlos Quentin in the outfield, if he feels that two outfield spots are now solidly in place for two years, barring injuries. The idea behind this issue was to see if there was a commitment to go after more outfielders in free agency, since the Padres a a couple of years away from a solid prospect being able to fill the job as the need arises.
Byrnes affirmed that the corner spots seemed set and pointed to part-time players already on the roster (Chris Denorfia, for example), but also brought up that Cameron Maybin was still signed long term and that the Padres had confidence that he would return in 2014. Maybin has yet to deliver, making $3 million this season while playing in only 14 games before injury.
And Cameron’s offensive output has been poor. And his back-loaded contract guarantees him $5 million in 2014, $7 million in 2015, and $8 million in 2016. Hardly seems fair in comparison to Venable’s contract.
Current ownership wasn’t responsible for Cameron’s contract, but they can’t be feeling too good about it since he’s a .249 hitter with the Padres and has yet to hit more than 9 home runs in a season. But they have to feel good about locking up Venable.
And one thing I’ve come to know about Will Venable, is that he’s one hell of a nice guy. I’m glad he’s become a good ball player.