The Cactus League and Grapefruit League seasons have begun and Opening Day is only five weeks away. Between now and then, several players will likely sign contract extensions to remain with their teams long-term. Spring training is when teams typically get down to business locking up their best young players.

The Boston Red Sox kicked off extension season with a massive deal for Rafael Devers (11 years, $331 million) soon after New Year's. In recent weeks, Houston Astros righty Cristian Javier (five years, $64 million) and New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (four years, $50 million) have signed long-term deals, among others. There will be more between now and Opening Day.

With that in mind, here's the latest news on four extension candidates, and what their contracts could look like should the two sides manage to hammer out a deal. Players are listed in order of their proximity to free agency.


1B Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies

Years until free agency: 1 (2023-24 offseason)

The player: Hoskins has been a steady middle-of-the-order presence since his MLB debut in 2017, doing so with plate discipline and dingers more than batting average. His 122 OPS+ ranks 20th among all players with at least 2,500 plate appearances since 2018, meaning he has been 22 percent better than the average hitter once adjusted for ballpark and the league's offensive environment. Hoskins is not a truly elite hitter, but he is comfortably above average.

The latest: The Phillies have not yet approached Hoskins about a contract extension, according to The Athletic. Here's what Hoskins said about his contract year:

"To me, every year is a big year. That's the nature of the business, in my opinion. And that's the way I look at it," Hoskins said Monday. "I'm excited about our team, I can tell you that. I had the most fun I've ever had playing baseball last summer and I know we have a really good chance to do that again."  

Philadelphia has signed late-inning relievers José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez to contract extensions this spring, and they are looking into a long-term deal with free agent-to-be Aaron Nola as well. Hoskins will make $12 million in 2023. That will put his career earnings just under $23 million by the end of the year, as he prepares to test the open market.

Comparable contracts: Historically, players who sign extensions one year prior to free agency get free agent contracts. There is no discount. That said, defensively challenged first basemen usually aren't a hot commodity. Josh Bell is roughly a year younger than Hoskins and he received a two-year, $32 million contract this winter. A deal along the lines of what the Phillies gave Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber (4-5 years at $20 million or so per year) appears to be Hoskins' upside as a free agent.

Should the Phillies try to extend him? If he's willing to take a discount, sure, otherwise it makes sense for the Phillies to play out the season. They already have two DH types signed long-term in Castellanos and Schwarber, plus Bryce Harper is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be able to return to the outfield full-time until 2024. Sign Hoskins to a multi-year extension and it will limit the team's future roster flexibility. Play the year out and see where everyone stands in November.


RHP Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians

Years until free agency: 2 (2024-25 offseason)

The player: The 2022 Cy Young winner bounced back from an injury-marred 2021 season to finish seventh in the Cy Young voting in 2022. His velocity has not fully returned from his 2021 shoulder injury — Bieber's fastball averaged 91.3 mph last year, down from 94.1 mph during his Cy Young season — and his strikeout rate has slipped as a result. Still, Bieber adapted to his new reality well and put together an ace-like season a year ago.