The Tampa Bay Rays are poised to sign rookie of the year candidate and multi-year top prospect in the game Wander Franco to a record breaking contract extension, according to Marc Topkin at the Tampa Bay Times:
BREAKING: #Rays, Wander Franco moving close to long term deal. Not final, details still to be worked out after T-giving. Expected to be in line with original report; more than 10 years, guarantee close to $200M.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 23, 2021
The news comes after a report last Thursday that Wander Franco had a contract in hand and was in negotiations with the Rays on a long term deal. Tampa Bay has never signed a contract with player options or a no-trade clause, and seems unlikely to have included such clauses in this deal either.
Update: Contract details, from Passan:
Lots of different iterations of Wander Franco’s deal have been exchanged in recent days. Final numbers on the contract, per sources: 11 years, $182M guaranteed, $25M club option for 12th year. Deal can max at $223M. There are $3M escalators for 1-5 MVP finishes starting in 2028.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 23, 2021
In wrapping your mind around this length of a deal, one could consider this two contract extensions pasted together, where the first portion is Franco’s six-year rookie contract at $60 million, with an additional five-year contract for $122 million and a one-year club option at $25 million. Escalators for specific achievements (Passan reports MVP votes) are how Franco reaches the top value of $223 million.
In his rookie season, which totaled only 70 games played, Wander Franco was a leading force atop the lineup for the American League East’s best team. Quick napkin math would require Franco to provide the Rays with 30-40 wins over the life of this contract to return market value. During his rookie season, Franco was already playing at an at-least 5-win pace at age 20.
Once signed, Franco’s contract extension would rank ninth among the largest dollar value contracts in MLB history, just ahead of Clayton Kershaw’s $215 million contract from 2014.
If Franco's deal is 11 years/$185 million that's not a crazy low amount.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) November 23, 2021
Bryce Harper's first 11 years: $141 million (free agent deal was backloaded)
Manny Machado first 11 years: $174 million
Fernando Tatis Jr first 11 years, $157 million
Source: Baseball Reference
While it is not surprising that the Rays would have pursued a longterm deal with Franco, just as the team had previously done with Evan Longoria or pitchers David Price and Blake Snell, it is certainly surprising that the team has locked in 12 seasons. For context, the Tampa Bay Rays do not even have a stadium to play in during years 7-12 of this deal.
Nevertheless, if you or your loved ones were finally considering a Rays jersey this holiday season, I have a suggestion for who might be a safe bet.
JT Morgan contributed to this article.