Max Muncy agrees to a 2-year, $24 million contract extension with Dodgers, will probably continue to be a bargain

Well, that was quick. A day after the end of the World Series, the Dodgers announced a contract extension with first baseman/second baseman/third baseman/designated hitter Max Muncy for two years and $24 million dollars, including a $10 million club option for 2026.

Muncy already had a club option for $10 million in 2024 that was going to increase to $14 million due to playing time incentives. While some fans were (amusingly) seriously debating whether a ~3 WAR player in this free agency environment (~$8+ million per win) was worth that paltry sum, the Dodgers not only picked up the option but extended him and got an even more team-friendly deal.

Speaking of production, Muncy had a bit of a bounceback season in 2023 after his 2022 was mostly derailed by Jace Peterson exploding his elbow at the end of 2021. He got things going at the end of last year, and carried that over into a solid .212/.333/.475/.808 season, good for a 118 wRC+. He was also arguably unlucky, posting a .365 xwOBA based on batted ball quality against a .344 actual, which unfortunately passed the eye test watching his luck last year. Additionally, because the postseason is on everybody’s mind nowadays, despite having his first bad run in 2023 (three games, though), he does carry a .234/.389/.468/.856 overall line in the playoffs.

Defensively is where the concern is, as he played his second new position in as many years in 2023, moving to third and seeing below average results there, clocking in at -5 runs above average by OAA. Still good for about a 3 WAR season overall that was worth more like $20-25 million on paper. To give you an idea of how much money he might be saving the Dodgers by taking this deal, Matt Carpenter had a much worse 2019 than Muncy’s 2023, but with a team option for 2020, he signed a two-year, $39 million extension with the Cardinals that had a vesting option.

Of course, there’s always some risk as Muncy will be 33 next year and hasn’t yet quite been the same since the serious elbow injury he suffered in 2021. Essentially, there’s typical age-related concern, like despite his exit velocities (max, included) holding, his contact rate was the lowest of his career in 2023, so that’s a yellow flag. However, it’s nitpicking, because Muncy would have to become almost literally half the player he was even in 2023 to make this deal bad value. The commitment is low enough that even if he does fall off, it’s not something the team can’t move on from, and the much more likely result is he’ll continue to be a bargain if he’s even an average starter.

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