Chase Headley to receive long-term extension

Chase Headley crosses the plate, looks up and points to the sky.
If the rumors are true, things could be looking up for Chase Headley. (Getty Images)

Will the San Diego Padres finally extend their most coveted player in third baseman Chase Headley?

According to sources familiar with the Padres, the front office is reportedly going to extend an offer that would make Chase Headley the highest-paid player in Padres franchise history. The front man of the Padres new ownership group, executive chairman Ron Fowler, told team sources at the San Diego Union Tribune that a multi-year deal will be offered sometime before midseason to last year’s NL RBI leader, Silver Slugger Award winner, Gold Glove winner and NL MVP runnerup.

“Will it be 10 years? No,” said Fowler. “We’re not going to do something like that. But we will do an offer that will be the largest offer we’ve ever made to a player in San Diego history and think it will be very close to some of the numbers I read in the press.”

Why would the Padres come out in public with such a bold statement? They must know if they’re can extend their third baseman long term. There is just no reason for the Padres to go public right now.

The only counter argument: They could say they made him a fair offer and then couldn’t get a deal done during one of the worst starts in franchise history. By my estimation, if the ownership group offers Chase Headley the highest contract in Padres history, that would lump him in the category of Jake Peavy money. In December 2007, the Padres locked up the former Cy Young winner for three years and $52 million. The guaranteed money in Peavy’s extension would have averaged $17.3 million per season. As we know, the Padres eventually shipped him in mid-2009 to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for four players, including the current lone Padres player from that deal, Clayton Richard. Peavy earned $6.5 million in 2008 and $11 million in 2009. The new money for the extension would have kicked in during the 2010 season, when he would have made $15 million with the Friars — $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012. The club had a $22 million option for 2013, or a $4 million buyout.

Now, reading into what Fowler said and speculating how the Padres unloaded Peavy’s contract while he was on the DL no less, it seems realistic that Chase Headley could earn an annual salary comparable to Peavy’s over four or five years. I was thinking something like five years at $80 million. While it sounds great, and I hope it happens for myriad reasons, it’s not like the Padres still couldn’t sign him now to a fair contract to appease an already disgruntled fan base.

I hope this is not  public relations spin tactic to raise fan hopes and put people in seats at PETCO Park. The Padres ownership does seem sincere, and as I have noted in the past, they have done some very positive things, but the fans deserve true all-star, homegrown players staying in San Diego for years to come vs. tearing the team down every year.

Coming off last year’s breakout season, Chase Headley and his agent had all the leverage. Then, Headley broke his thumb late in spring training, and he is just now starting to heat up a lineup desperate for offensive production. Ownership wanted to see how Chase Headley produced early on before they made any knee-jerk reactions, and it looks like they understand if he keeps playing like he is now, he’s only going to get more expensive.

One thing seems to be certain and encouraging: The Padres have a darn good idea if Chase Headley will sign an extension. We know he would like to wear the Padres colors for years to come, and there is mutual interest — and there is no reason for Padres ownership to make a public announcement unless they are serious. I believe ownership is serious, and we should find out sooner rather than later if Chase Headley will remain with the Padres for years to come or if this is a weak public relations spin.

Until Chase Headley inks that contract on the dotted line, I won’t hold my breath. Although, I won’t automatically assume it’s ownership damage control like others are.

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