The Tampa Bay Rays are made up a core of players who seemingly set to enter their prime years in the season
Meadows broke out in a big way in 2019. After years as a top prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Meadows finally received the opportunity to play everyday with the Rays in 2019 and he rewarded the Rays faith by putting up an All-Star campaign, registering a 142 wRC+ and accruing a total of 4.0 fWAR over 138 games played.
He won’t be eligible for arbitration until the ‘21-’22 offseason and if Meadows keeps producing like he did in 2019, he should in line for very lucrative contracts in the near future and — let’s be honest — likely pricing him well out of reach for the Rays budget.
However, he will still receive the league minimum for the next two seasons and could cash in now on his breakout performance by signing an extension with Tampa Bay that would pay him well over the league minimum for 2020 and guarantee his earnings in the near to distant future.
Willy Adames is on the cusp of greatness. The prize of the 2014 David Price trade finally reached the big leagues in 2018 and immediately homered off Boston’s ace... uh, Chris Sale. After that, Adames put up respectable offensive numbers but struggled with his glove.
Heading into the offseason the question was simple: Would Adames become something more, or was this what the Rays could expect?
This past season, Adames worked tirelessly to improve his defense, much to the delight of the Rays pitching staff. After a -1 DRS mark in 2018, Adames led all American League shortstops with 13 DRS in 2019.
As for the offensive side of things, Adames registered a 97 wRC+ in 2019 but still blasted 20 home runs. Turns out he’s the real deal.
Like Meadows, Adames will earn the league minimum in 2020 and isn’t eligible for arbitration until the ‘21-’22 offseason.
The Rays live and die by continuously churning out high quality pitching and flipping it for even more higher quality pitching (of a younger variety). Matt Garza beget Chris Archer beget Tyler Glasnow, and it’s time he followed the classic Rays script: Sign a team friendly contract to get paid for a few arbitration years, then to be traded before the expensive years kick in. That’s the Rays modus operandi.
However, that is not the only reason to sign Tyler Glasnow to an extension. The other reason is that he can be very, very, very good.
Glasnow, a ‘Super Two’ player, just went through his first round arbitration and despite missing the majority of the 2019 season due to injury, Glasnow and the Rays settled on a $2.05M contract for the 2020 season.
While healthy in 2019, Glasnow was an early front runner for the Cy Young award. Glasnow returned in September and pitched in the postseason. During the regular season, Glasnow pitched in just 12 games, striking out 33% of opposing hitters and registering a 1.78 ERA.
The risk of injury, plus the potential of having a guaranteed contract beyond the 2023 season, may lead Glasnow to being more willing than other players as far into arbitration as he in signing an extension with the Rays.
One of the most recent additions to the Rays roster may be a candidate for an extension.
The Tampa Bay Rays are big believers in Arozarena, evidenced by the Rays acquiring him as the anchor for a trade of one of the game’s most heralded pitching prospects in Matthew Liberatore, the team’s 2018 first round draft pick. It is not often that the Rays part ways with a top prospect of Liberatore’s pedigree, but Arozarena’s tools clearly made them feel it was worth it.
During the 2019 season, Randy was able to put his tools together to build a tremendous offensive season in which he torched the upper levels of the minor leagues and warranted a promotion to the big leagues when rosters expanded in September. During his brief stint of 19 games, Arozarena hit .300/.391/.500 over 23 plate appearances.
The Rays believe Arozarena is the type of player they’ll be able to build a lineup around and couple plausibly lock him into a long term deal to ensure he’ll remain a fixture for years to come, even if it’s eventually just as a role player rotating in and out of the roster. And there’s precedent for this sort of extension in the contract Brandon Lowe secured just a year ago.
Wander Franco is still just 18 years old and hasn’t played above A+ ball, but the amount of talent he possesses has made him such a tantalizing prospects that most pundits think he should be able to reach the majors at some point during the upcoming season.
It’s becoming more and more frequent in baseball for these top of the line prospects to sign long term deals with their franchises early on their big league careers or even before they’ve seen their first pitch in the majors. And there’s more precedent than Evan Longoria!
The Chicago White Sox recently signed Luis Robert, most recently ranked as the 3rd best prospect in the game by Baseball America, to a six year, $50M contract. Robert tore through the minor leagues last year, finishing the season in Triple-A.
Chicago also signed Eloy Jimenez to a six year deal during spring training in 2019, prior to Jimenez making his Major League debut in April. Jimenez had split the prior season between Double-A and Triple-A.
While it’s not likely that Franco signs a long term deal with the Rays this upcoming spring, the team has to be mulling their options on how to keep the wunderkind within the organization for the foreseeable future and the topic of an extension may be broached as the seasons wanes on.
Who would you like to see sign a long term extension with the Rays this Spring?
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