PEORIA, Ariz. -- Because he seized the opportunity they gave him last year at this time with grace, flair and production, the Padres have hitched their long-term plans to center fielder Cameron Maybin with a five-year, $25 million deal that takes him through 2016, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
The deal also includes a club option for 2017 that could push its total value to $33 million.
"It's a great thing," Padres manager Bud Black said Saturday. "It gives Cameron some security and stability, and it gives us a player under contract that we're excited to have."
Maybin flourished with the Padres last summer in the opportunity of a lifetime following two rough seasons with the Marlins in which he shuttled up and down between the majors and minors. The Padres made it clear to him last spring that they would give him every chance to win the center field job. But, carrying scars from the way the Marlins pulled the plug on him multiple times, it took awhile for him to relax and push away the paranoia.
"Even until the halfway point last year, I had days where I was looking over my shoulder," Maybin said following Saturday's workout. "You hear it, but you don't believe it.
"There came a point around the All-Star break where I knew I was the guy. Going into this year and having this [contract] done, I think it helps me even more. ... I think there's a lot more in there. There's a lot more to come."
In 137 games in San Diego, Maybin batted .264, nine homers and 40 RBI. He stole 40 bases, compiled a .323 on-base percentage and played an excellent center field. His .901 zone rating ranked second among qualifying NL center fielders.
He ranked fourth in the majors in thefts. His 82 runs scored and eight triples led the Padres. He also legged out 37 infield hits, sixth in the majors and second all-time in club history behind Eric Young's 40 in 2000.
At 25, as you would expect following a year in which he established himself, it's an even more mature Maybin preparing for the 2012 season this spring.
"A couple of things I see, I don't want to say he's more at ease, but he's more confident," Black said. "As much as we told him last spring that he was going to be our everyday center fielder, I think there was some doubt in his mind that that would be the case.
"He knows there's a responsibility that comes with being an everyday player. The organization reached out to him with a long-term commitment, and he realizes what that means."
Wearing a dress shirt with a patch above the right breast reading, "Courage is knowing what not to fear", Maybin said he senses that at this point, with this deal, the Padres are making him the face of the franchise, "which I'm more than ready and willing to be."
"Cameron has certainly emerged as a core player,” general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement. “During his time with the Padres, he has impressed us with his play and with his character. He has shown us that he is committed to the Padres, and we are happy to secure his rights through 2017."
Though Maybin did not get a no-trade clause -- "That's something I wish we could have gotten in there" -- the Asheville, N.C., native said he feels at home enough that he'll look to move to San Diego for good.
Sunblock Day? Barely. High 60s here in the desert. But it's supposed to be 80 Sunday.
Likes: Padres manager Bud Black while discussing Matt Palmer and other pitchers on his staff: "God, I wish I had an Emerson and a Lake. Oh, what a lucky man I'd be." ... Exhibition games. Real, live baseball to watch. ... Looking forward to watching Duke-North Carolina tonight. ... The cheese enchiladas at Garcia's Mexican Restaurant (I really need to branch out, think I've eaten Mexican in three of the past six evenings). ... The jokes that were told over the dinner that I can't repeat.
Dislikes: Haven't been able to run for the past couple of days because, somehow, I wound up with a strained oblique while working out Wednesday. Didn't feel it until waking up Thursday. Ouch. Apparently, spring training is for writers to get the kinks out, too.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
As games begin in the Grapefruit and Cactus League, a respectful pause today in tribute to how the late, great, Ernie Harwell always opened his first broadcast of the spring:
"For, lo, the winter is past
The rain is over and gone
The flowers appear on the earth
The time of the singing of birds is come
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land"
-- Song of Solomon 2:11-12