When the St. Louis Cardinals and Allen Craig agreed to a contract extension for 5 years/$31 million, nobody had the foresight to think it would be a bargain deal for the club.
This week saw the Atlanta Braves agree to an extension with first baseman Freedie Freeman for 8 years/$135 million. Freeman wasn’t even due to be a free agent until the end of the 2017 season! Freeman is now signed through the 2021 season. Even at three years longer than Craig’s deal, Craig is still a bargain. Craig is signed through 2017 with an option for 2018 valued at $13 million. If Craig keeps having years like his 2013 season, it will be an epic bargain as Jeff Gordon notes.
Craig is a super-bargain when one takes into account what the Cincinnati Reds are paying to keep Joey Votto on hand: 11 years at $263 million! Freeman is a bargain, too, with the amount given to Votto.
Here is what Craig has done at the last two seasons:
2012: .307/.354/.522/.876, 22 HRs, 92 RBIs
2013: .315/.373/.457/.830, 13 HRs, 97 RBIs
Both Craig and Freeman made their debut in the 2010 seasons. Craig has a hitting line of .306/.358/.492 with 50 home runs, 192 runs, and 247 runs batted in. Freeman has a line of .285/.358/.466 with 68 home runs, 250 runs, and 280 runs batted in. As far as the overall numbers, Craig has played in 371 games while Freeman played in 471 games so far–nearly 100 more games.
Craig finished in the top 20 for MVP voting in 2012 and 2013 while Freeman finished in the top 5 for MVP voting for the 2013 season.
If Craig can avoid injuries in the long-term, the Cardinals–not the Braves or Reds–will be the winner in the end.