On Thursday Carlos Martinez signed an extension that’s the first of it’s kind. He will earn $51MM over the next five years, a number that shatters the previous record for first time arbitration eligible players that Corey Kluber previously held with his $38.5MM five-year deal. By signing, Martinez secures his future and the Cardinals secure a top-level arm for likely less then what he would earn after a couple years of arbitration.
Signing pitchers to long-term deals is always a gamble. No one completely understands a pitcher’s arm to the point where they can predict injury risk. By common knowledge Chris Sale should’ve had four Tommy John surgeries by now. That’s why you’re going to see more teams take calculated risks of signing extremely young arms to longer extensions given they have less overall mileage. Carlos Martinez has already had almost 500 innings of success in the Majors, so he’s fairly established for a 25 year old.
The prime years of a pitcher, and athletes in general, are getting younger and younger. It’s already started. Guys who are basically babies are cashing million dollar checks because 30 is the new 35 in sports. I feel like most GMs around baseball look at a 30 year old pitcher and give them the Yoda to Anakin Skywalker treatment, saying their too old to cash a big check and become a Jedi. Sorry for referencing that terrible movie.
There’s also no doubt Martinez did a fist pump when he heard the Cardinals would be losing draft picks this year. He was already in discussions with the team about an extension but I’m sure this played a factor in getting it done. I’m guessing Martinez’s agent called the Cardinals saying “Hey, just saw the news. Sucks man. I guess you’ll be giving us that payday huh?” and then John Mozeliak was just like “well shit, I guess we have to don’t we?”