Over at Beyond the Box Score, there is a great article about WAR of players in MLB grouped by age. This article pretty much confirms what a lot of us stat heads (and especially Wonko), have been saying for years, that productivity of MLB players is dominated by the prime age (26-30), With the decline years (31-35) and the entry years (21-25_ being about equal. The later years 36+ have very little contribution to WAR sans the steroid era.
What does this mean for our Padres (or the educated fans on this site, since I bet executives already know this)? When constructing a team, most of your resources should be focused on acquiring and retaining players through their 30 year age. Having a few years into the 31-35 is fine if it meant keeping a player's peak, as long as you it is on terms that make sense. Clubs should avoid giving large contracts that extend past the early 30's, as the production at the tail end of those contracts are at replacement level, and in the case of star players, are very expensive.
Ideally locking up a productive player and buying out them out to their age 30/31 years would be the best strategy of using resources (assuming a player is worth locking up). I would even argue that given how quickly players performance declines (sans the PED era), that it is better to give up a year in their 26-30 years, then extend 2-3 years into their declining years (31-35).
I think Chase is an example of this. Any large contract that goes much beyond year 32, would be a bad investment for the Padres, considering they already have him under control for year 29.