SAN DIEGO — Obviously, it’s always extension season in San Diego.
On Saturday, Jake Cronenworth became the latest player to peg his long-term future with the Padres.
The 29-year-old infielder has agreed to a seven-year contract extension that will keep him in San Diego through the 2030 season. Terms were not announced, but a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that he is worth $80. millions.
A two-time All-Star, Cronenworth had two seasons left on his contract before he was eligible to hit free agency. The extension essentially buys out his remaining two years of arbitration and his first five free agency-eligible seasons.
In December 2019, Cronenworth arrived in San Diego as a fringe prospect widely seen as a throw-in in a trade with the Rays that also scored Tommy Pham and sent Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards to Tampa Bay.
Quickly, it became “the Jake Cronenworth trade.” He came to the big league club in 2020, then finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting. In each of the two successive seasons, he made the All-Star team and authored a number of memorable moments in the 2022 postseason, none more than his go-ahead hit that helped eliminate the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League. Division Series last October.
In his three seasons with the Padres, Cronenworth has posted a slash line of .256/.338/.430 with superlative defense throughout the infield, though primarily at second and first base. His long-term positional fit with the club remains unclear.
Cronenworth currently plays first base, and Ha-Seong Kim moved to second with the arrival of Bogaerts. Cronenworth is capable of playing all four spots in the infield, and doing it well. But he was a Gold Glove finalist at second base last season.
To be clear, Cronenworth’s adaptability and versatility is precisely what made him so attractive to the Padres in the first place, and surely part of the reason they decided to lock him up for the long haul.
The next step in the extension tour? Josh Hader and Blake Snell will become free agents after the season. There’s no indication of traction toward an extension with either of those two (although there was also no indication that a Cronenworth deal was finalized as of Friday night).
A possible extension for Juan Soto is top of mind, though general manager AJ Preller said Thursday that Soto has expressed a preference to focus on the season.
“With Juan,” Preller said, “it’s been more about the baseball side of things, honestly.”
With the season underway, it’s quite possible that Cronenworth’s deal spells the end of the Padres’ wave of extensions. Perhaps now the focus will shift to the day-to-day of a season with unprecedented expectations in San Diego.
On the other hand, these are the Preller Parents and the owner Peter Seidler.