Chase Headley is the new kind of baseball free agent. Technically, he won’t be on the market until after the 2014 season. But he’s effectively available now. Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told U-T San Diego this week that the team would offer Headley a franchise-record contract “before midseason.” Great news, except one small detail: Headley told that he doesn’t want to negotiate during the regular season, and his agent, Jim Murray, later confirmed as much to In other words, Headley will be only one year from free agency when he’s willing to re-engage the Padres in talks on a long-term contract. Players who are only year from free agency tend to be very curious about it — particularly when their current franchise has one winning season since 2007 and is in last place now. At the very least, the absence of negotiations will make the 28-year-old Headley one of the most coveted players in baseball leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He’s a switch hitter with power who last year won the National League RBI title and a Gold Glove at third base. He also played left field earlier in his career, which enhances his value. For the moment, the Padres say signing Headley to a long-term contract remains a priority. “Our first choice is to make every effort to keep Chase in San Diego,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told Thursday. “Both sides agree that we have a lot of time to work through the process. We have a lot of time before he becomes a free agent.”