The Athletic offers bad comp for Rangers’ Jonah Heim contract extension prediction

This comparison will not instill much confidence in the Rangers fanbase.
Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim (28) reacts
Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim (28) reacts / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic (subscription required) has steadily been predicting potential contract extension candidates ahead of the upcoming season. As most baseball fans know, it's quite common for players and organizations to work out long-term deals before the start of the season, as most players prefer not to negotiate in-season.

Jonah Heim, the Texas Rangers catcher who's just entered his first season of arbitration eligibility, could be having preliminary discussions with the team this spring about staying with the organization over the long haul. Heim enjoyed a breakout season in 2023 and will take home $3.1 million in 2024.

While it's always difficult to compare players, especially catchers, doing so gives teams an idea of what a potential contract extension might look like. The Athletic's comp for Heim was former Cincinnati Reds backstop Devin Mesoraco. Rangers fans are hopeful that's not a sign of things to come in 2024 and beyond.

The Athletic comp for Rangers’ Jonah Heim contract extension prediction is Devin Mesoraco

After the 2014 season, Mesoraco signed a four-year, $28 million with the Reds. Cincinnati's backstop had just completed his first All-Star season with the club while hitting .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs, 80 RBI, and a 147 OPS+. Taking one look at those stats, most fans would've said the Reds would've been foolish not to lock up one of the best players.

But Mesoraco's career took a turn for the worse almost as soon as he signed on the dotted line. The next two seasons saw the Reds' catcher appear in just 95 games and hit only.191/.292/.314. Injuries and multiple surgeries crushed any chance that Mesoraco had of being one of the best backstops in the game.

In 2018, Mesoraco played just 18 games for Cincinnati before he was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Matt Harvey. Mesoraco closed out his time in Queens, and eventually his major league career, by hitting .221/.303/.398 and retired during the offseason.

What might a Jonah Heim extension with the Rangers look like?

Mesoraco was two years younger than Heim when he agreed to the four-year extension. A former first-round pick, Mesoraco carried a bit more lofty status than the Rangers catcher. But Heim, who won a Gold Glove last season, is the far superior catcher. The 28-year-old is one of the best framers in baseball.

The Athletic predicted, at today's value, that Heim could possibly secure a four-year, $32 million contract. That seems like good deal for both sides, provided Heim's career doesn't take the path as Mesoraco's.