The Dodgers and infielder Max Muncy agreed to a contract extension, according to an announcement from the team. Under the front extension he signed with the Dodgers, they had a $13MM club option for his services in 2023. That will now become guaranteed at $13.5MM, with the Dodgers now holding a $10MM club option for 2024, plus incentives. Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times reports that there is no buyout on the 2024 option.
This extension is a bit of an early birthday present for Muncy, as he will turn 32 on Thursday. The left-handed slugger was a late bloomer by major league baseball standards, having his breakout season in 2018 at age 27. That year, he hit 35 home runs and slashed .263/.391/.582 for a wRC+ of 162, indicating. his offense was 62% better than league average. In 2019, he proved it wasn’t a fluke, hitting 35 home runs again and slashing .251/.374/.515 for a wRC+ of 133. He also provided defensive versatility in that time, moving between first, second and third base.
After those two strong seasons, Muncy finally reached arbitration for the first time in his career, at the age of 29. He and the club did not come to an agreement, with the club filing for $4MM while Muncy’s camp submitted $4.675MM . . Before the hearing took place, the two sides agreed to a longer-term pact, running through 2022 with the option for 2023. Because Muncy was on pace to reach free agency after 2022, that extension effectively gave up one year of free agency allowing him. to guarantee himself $26MM in future earnings, and possibly more.
Muncy declined slightly during the shortened 2020 campaign but was excellent in the postseason, helping the Dodgers win their first World Series title since 1988. Last year, he returned to the pace he established in 2018 and 2019 when he hit 36 home runs . and produced a batting line of .249/.368/.527, wRC+ of 140. Unfortunately, he injured his arm in a collision at the end of the season, an injury that prohibited him from participating in the postseason last year.
That injury apparently continued into 2022, as Muncy spent time on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation and struggled during the early parts of the season. However, the good version of Muncy has been roaring lately. Through the end of July, he was hitting .161/.310/.303 for a wRC+ of 82. As the calendar turned to August, however, he hit seven home runs and slashed .328/.409/.776, increasing his. wRC+ for the season to 105.
That August line is still a small sample of just 66 plate appearances, but the Dodgers obviously have enough faith in Muncy that they want to re-up with him for one more year. If that show of faith pays off, they will be rewarded by having the ability to keep Muncy around for yet another season. It also helps reduce some uncertainty in the club’s on-field image. The Dodgers held club picks over both Muncy and Justin Turnerwhile Trea Turner is scheduled to become a free agent in a few months. While it was possible to envision a scenario where all three ended up in new uniforms next year, now the club knows it can at least count on Muncy to take a spot somewhere on the diamond. There is also uncertainty in the outfield, with Joey Gallo going to free agency and Cody Bellinger potential non-bid candidate. With players like Muncy, Chris Taylor, Gavin Lux and others bringing that multi-positional skill set, they are in a good position to navigate their options in the offseason.
From Muncy, he can finish the season and enter the playoffs with the peace of mind of having his 2023 salary locked in with a slight raise. The details of the incentives are not yet known, but this may give him a chance to secure additional income as well.
Fabian Ardaya of The Athletics was among those to report the extension before the official announcement.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.