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Rockies lock up Helton (almost) forever

3/11/2010

Will Todd Helton spend his whole career with the Rockies? The odds just got a lot better:


    The Colorado Rockies and Helton agreed on Thursday to a two-year, $9.9 million contract extension that runs through the 2013 season.

    The first baseman also agreed to defer $13.1 million of his $19 million salary in 2011 over a 10-year period beginning in 2014, the team said.

    "We reached out for Todd in the wintertime, and had quiet discussions," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "He understood what we were trying to do and wanted to retire as a Rockie."

    --snip--

    Helton signed a nine-year, $141.5 million contract extension in March 2001 that took effect in 2003. That deal will pay Helton $16.6 million this year and $19 million in 2011 with a $4.6 million buyout on a $23 million option in 2012. That buyout now becomes moot with Helton receiving $4.9 million in salary for 2012.

This looks like a fantastic deal for everyone involved.

I didn't like Helton's nine-year contract when he signed it, and I still don't like it. But Helton has generally performed well -- the exception being 2008 -- and he hasn't blocked any hot first-base prospects. That's still true today, as the Rockies have a number of first-base prospects but none of them hot.

Helton is going to be an interesting Hall of Fame candidate. He's not going to finish with 3,000 hits or 2,000 RBI or 500 home runs, all marks we might expect from a 21st century first baseman playing half his games in Denver (and he does have massive home/road splits). Helton's never won an MVP Award, or been close to winning one.

On the other hand, Helton's going to finish his career with an on-base percentage well above .400; right now it's .427, No. 1 among all active major leaguers. He has won a few Gold Gloves, and seems to have a few decent seasons left in him. At this point he's a borderline Hall of Famer, with a chance to improve his standing. And maybe, just maybe, he'll deserve a small dollop of extra credit for helping his club free up a few dollars.