Friday, December 9, 2022



Rays,Franco are close to Megadeal.



ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA — A group of Rays officials threw aside their scouting reports, sat back, and simply watched the switch-hitting shortstop play shortly before signing Wander Franco for $3.825 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. They left that day thinking they had seen “something potentially extraordinary” in Franco, according to Rays vice president Carlos Rodriguez earlier this year.

Since then, Franco has lived up to their expectations. The 16-year-old prodigy rose to become baseball’s consensus best prospect before breaking out as a 20-year-old rookie phenom this season. As I watched Franco play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, it was evident that the team’s forecasts were true. The Rays are close to finalising a massive, record-setting extension with the young star, which will keep him under contract for more than a decade.

Franco and the Rays are in agreement on an 11-year contract extension with a 12-year club option, according to a source who spoke to’s Jon Paul Morosi on Tuesday. According to Mark Feinsand of, the agreement is worth a guaranteed $182 million, with the option and award escalators bringing the total to $223 million. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the contract includes $3 million escalators for top-five MVP finishes beginning in 2028, but no no-trade clause.

  • *The largest contract extensions in Major League Baseball [MLB] history
    The club has not confirmed the deal or commented on the negotiations, in keeping with its long-standing policy on contract talks, and the deal is still pending a physical, which will likely push it out until after Thanksgiving. If the contract is completed, it will be the largest in Rays history and the largest for a player with less than a year of Major League experience.
    Franco was baseball’s top prospect for two years, and he lived up to the hype this season, slashing.288/.347/. 463 with a career-high 43-game on-base streak and 3.5 WAR in his first season. Despite only appearing in 70 games, he placed third in the American League Rookie of the Year vote, and by the time the Rays faced the Red Sox in the AL Division Series, he appeared to be their most dangerous hitter.

  • *Baseball’s longest contracts in history
    Franco may already be “the most important player on any club in baseball,” according to manager Kevin Cash after the Rays’ season ended. Now, he’s set to sign a historic contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are coming off a 100-win season and their second consecutive AL East title.
    Franco, who will turn 21 on March 1, has demonstrated a batting eye, plate discipline, and bat-to-ball skills that point to long-term success. He’s an above-average shortstop who can play any position in the infield, giving the Rays plenty of versatility during the term of his contract.

  • The Rays have made similar deals in the past — Evan Longoria, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, and Brandon Lowe all inked long-term deals early in their careers — but never at such a hefty price.
    No player with less than a year of service time had ever signed a contract worth more than Ronald Acua Jr.’s eight-year, $100 million pact with Atlanta in 2019. Longoria’s six-year, $100 million agreement in late 2012 was the richest contract in Tampa Bay history, bringing the team’s total guaranteed commitment to $136.6 million over ten years.

  • It’s a major deal for both the Rays, who are making a one-of-a-kind investment, and Franco, who will be able to secure generational fortune before turning 21. Even if it’s a win-win situation for both parties, as it appears to be, these agreements nevertheless carry risk for all parties involved.
    Given the mega-extensions signed this year by rookie shortstops Fernando Tatis Jr. (14 years, $340 million) and Francisco Lindor (10 years, $341 million), Franco may have passed up an opportunity to earn a higher paycheck down the road. He’s also postponed his free agency, leaving himself vulnerable to trade, as players who sign long-term agreements frequently do.

  • And the Rays, who have one of the lowest payrolls in the Majors, are paying a sizable sum of money to a highly talented but still inexperienced player for more than a decade at a time when the club is in flux. The club is now looking into a “Sister City” proposal to split future seasons between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal, and will continue to do so this winter. The Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027, thus based on the stated conditions of Franco’s contract, they are committed to a ballplayer for longer than their ballpark.

  • In terms of Franco’s club control, this wasn’t a pressing issue. Franco isn’t arbitration-eligible until after the 2024 season, and he won’t reach free agency until after the ’27 season, according to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which ends next week. Franco, a potential young superstar, wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, even with the Rays’ continual roster turnover.
    Franco’s agreement, if signed, will cover his three pre-arbitration seasons, all three arb-eligible seasons, and five free agency seasons — possibly six if the Rays pick up his option. In his early 30s, he will still have the opportunity to test the market in free agency, as do many of this offseason’s top free agents.

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