The San Diego Padres and third baseman Chase Headley agreed to a one-year deal last week, avoiding arbitration. The switch-hitter will earn $8.575 million in 2013, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. That one year contract may be as far as it goes, however.
Headley and the team are "not on the same page," regarding a long-term solution, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune last month. "It was a quick discussion. We weren’t on the same page right from the start."
This doesn't mean the two sides won't ultimately find common ground, but another statement Headley made about the discussion may be telling: "This close to free agency, it has to be a good deal for us. You can’t sacrifice what’s fair."
The Padres aren't exactly a free-spending club and Headley's big year in 2012 suggests he could approach the salary figured of the top third baseman in the game. He's slated for free agency following the 2014 season, which means GM Josh Byrnes will have to figure something out within the next year or so or they may be forced to put Headley on the trade block.
Among the deals Headley and his agents, the Hendricks Brothers, could look to as a basis for future negotiations include the 5-year, $45 million deal Ryan Zimmerman received from the Washington Nationals with similar service time. That plus inflation could net Headley well over $50 million for five season, perhaps into the $75-80 million range. Whether the Padres can house that kin of contract is unclear.
If Headley reaches free agency in two years and continues to produce at similar levels as this past season, $100 million isn't out of the question, either.
It's conceivable that if talks don't warm up by mid-season, Headley could be shopped this coming summer, especially if he's performing well and the team is out of the race in the National League West. There were reports this past season that clubs inquired about his availability, but it does not appear as if conversations went very far. That could change sooner than later.
Among the clubs that could have serious trade interest in Headley if he becomes available include the New York Yankees, who do not have a long-term answer at third base, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs.
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden says the time Padres need to move quickly:
"Right now, the free agent and arbitration markets are at an all-time high. With third basemen such as David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria already signed to long-term deals, Headley’s trade value is the best among the third baseman who could be available. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the small-market Padres might not be able to afford a long-term extension, and if they can't sign him they should trade him now."