The San Diego Padres have been busy over the past weeks hammering away at extending key pieces of its team, and now the organization has locked up infielder Jake Cronenworth for the long-haul. The primary second baseman has agreed to a seven-year, $80M deal that will keep him in town until the end of the 2030 season. With the infielder set to be in San Diego for a while, let’s take a look at how good Cronenworth has been since his debut and compare it to his peers.
A Look at Cronenworth
Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth has been a force for San Diego since he made his Major League debut in the shortened 2020 campaign. The 29-year-old stormed on to the scene when he hit .285 and posted an .831 OPS over 54 regular season games. Cronenworth finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020, as he finished behind Brewers reliever Devin Williams.
Cronenworth has continued to produce in San Diego since his rookie campaign. The 29-year-old was an NL All-Star in each of the past two seasons. Last season with San Diego, Cronenworth led all second baseman in runs batted in (88) and drove in the game-winning run in Game 4 of the 2022 NLDS against rival Los Angeles.
A versatile infielder that can hit for power, put bat-to-ball on a regular basis, and play all infield positions aside from catcher at the Major League level, Cronenworth has emerged as a highly-valuable piece for the Padres.
The 29-year-old’s new deal will buy out the remaining two years of his arbitration eligibility, plus five more years. He’s now set to become a free agent at the end of the 2030 season.
What it Means
Cronenworth’s new deal won’t kick in until 2024 — something that will be quite beneficial for luxury tax purposes. When it does, the former University of Michigan star will be the eighth-highest second baseman in the Majors per Spotrac.
Cronenworth has spent most of his MLB career at second base. But, he’s been seeing a lot of time early on in the season at first thanks to the presence of Xander Bogaerts and Ha-Seong Kim. For the purposes of this article, though, let’s take a look at how the infielder’s three-year stats stack up to other highly-paid players who have been primarily second baseman in that span:
|Name||AAV (2024 Projected)||HR||XBH||SB||OPS|
The 29-year-old’s numbers match up well with his peers, as he owned the seventh-best OPS in that span. And, only Marcus Semien and Jose Altuve have more extra base hits among players in this group than Cronenworth.
Cronenworth has delivered plenty of pop for the Padres over his first three seasons. And while he might not be a major threat on the base paths, he can stretch out doubles into triples and affect the game in a number of different ways.
Keep in mind that while his new contract will keep him in San Diego until the end of his age-36 season, the value of having Cronenworth in a Padres uniform for the immediate future and the team’s championship window is the key to this deal. With that considered, this deal makes sense. But as we mentioned when the Padres re-signed both Manny Machado and Yu Darvish, all eyes will be squarely focused on the impending free agency of Juan Soto after the 2024 season.