Earlier today, a report surfaced that the Rays camp and Wander Franco have been in talks regarding a contract extension:
Sources have informed @ElCaribeRD that @RaysBaseball has presented a contract extension offer to Wander Franco. The offer is expected to exceed the 8 years/100 million dollars deal extended to Ronald Acuña Jr. by the Braves in 2019. The one to Franco gets close to 200 million.— Yancen Pujols (@YancenPujols) November 18, 2021
The report has gained some legs since this initial tweet, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors picked up the story, and the tweet itself was quoted by Rays beat reporter Marc Topkin:
#Rays typically explore long term deals with top young players, so this report seems to have some validity. No confirmation on the specifics or numbers (team policy to not comment on such matters). No sense anything is imminent, but does seem conversations have been had. https://t.co/0D2PRFqkJG— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 18, 2021
As Topkin states, we don’t know many details, but the Rays have been fairly consistent when it comes to offering extensions to its young players. With that said, Franco isn’t just another young Rays player. A deal like this is new territory for the organization.
It is difficult to speculate what numbers are being discussed here, but an extension this early in his career could greatly benefit the Rays. Not just because Franco appears to be the generational talent the baseball world thinks he is, but also because the longer the Rays wait, the more dollars they may have to shell out to keep him long term.
It is reasonable to think that the Rays offered something in the realm of Ronald Acuña’s deal, but it is hard to imagine seriously getting Wander to the table for much less than double that amount. At this moment, he is set to reach free agency before his age 27 season, where, if he stays on his current trajectory, could easily command something well north of 10 years and $200 million.
For the Rays to keep Franco in the Bay Area, it may take something closer to what the Padres gave to Fernando Tatis, Jr., or at the very least, a heavily back loaded contract where the Rays can take advantage of a few extra years, while still allowing him to reach free agency before he gets on the wrong side of 30.
Either way, it seems like a small price to pay to maximize what Franco can do while in a Rays uniform. After being the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball two consecutive years, Franco was a finalist for the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year award despite only playing 70 games, and is projected to have over five FanGraphs WAR, per Steamer.