Is Chipper Jones the last true franchise player?

On Thursday, Chipper Jones announced that he would be retiring from the Atlanta Braves after the 2012 season. From declaring him a first ballot hall of famer, to video of his retirement, to the Chipper Jones Song, to some really disturbing photos, there have been so many articles written about Chipper Jones I don’t know if R.A. Dickey could climb to the top of this particular mountain.

David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot blog wrote a great piece about Chipper being the ultimate franchise player and I couldn’t help but wonder as I read it….is he the last, or are we in a period where teams are being more aggressive about trying to lock up their "franchise" players?

It’s, of course, a speculative topic, but one that certainly has merit given that players of Jones’ caliber are rare and ultimately every team’s goal to bring home on draft day.

In the last few years we have seen a huge increase in teams locking up their most popular players. Here are a few notable names that very well may end up spending their entire careers with the organization that drafted them (Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young are coming to the end of their careers, so we’ll keep them off):

Player

Team

Drafted

Debut

Signed through

Ryan Braun

Milwaukee

2005

2007

2020

Troy Tulowitzki

Colorado

2005

2006

2020

Matt Moore

Tampa Bay

2007

2011

2019

Ryan Zimmerman

Washington

2005

2005

2019

Matt Kemp

Los Angeles (NL)

2003

2006

2019

Joe Mauer

Minnesota

2001

2004

2018

Andrew McCutchen

Pittsburgh

2005

2009

2017

Yadier Molina

St. Louis

2000

2004

2017

Evan Longoria

Tampa Bay

2006

2008

2016

Jered Weaver

Los Angeles (AL)

2004

2006

2016

Ryan Howard

Philadelphia

2001

2004

2016

Justin Verlander

Detroit

2004

2005

2014

Chipper Jones is going into the Hall of Fame as a Brave and while he is one of the best overall first round picks to play his entire career with one team; he certainly won’t be the last thanks to names like Stephen Strasburg, Justin Upton, and Joe Mauer who could all follow in his footsteps as singular players for their original teams.

So no, Chipper certainly won’t be the last true franchise player. In fact, he’s the type of name teams should try to exploit in order to convince their own stars to sign extensions. Players such as Joey Votto of Cincinnati, Brian McCann of Atlanta, Dustin Pedroia of Boston, Robinson Cano of New York (AL), Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum of San Francisco, Clayton Kershaw of Los Angeles (AL), Cole Hamels of Philadelphia are some high profile names who are all going to enter the Free Agent market in the next few years.

Obviously, it’s simply not realistic for some teams to do that, but it's food for thought, and food is always good no matter what form it's in as long as it’s filling.

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