The Rays…repeat, the Rays…are signing Wander Franco to a massive extension: guaranteed $182M over 10 years, potentially $223M over 12. It’s not just the biggest contract in Rays’ history, it’s the biggest ever in MLB history for a player with less than a year of service time.
Note that the Rays have spent $348M total on free agents in their 23 year history. Here they are committing more than half that on one guy. The Rays, in doing this, have locked in a lot of cost control though. Look at what Francisco Lindor got from the Mets…and just wait to see the deals other free agent shortstops will be getting this offseason, at least when a new CBA is signed. They’ve also now stamped Franco as the future of the franchise (could be the near future—it should shock nobody if Kiermeier gets traded). The why him is also obvious—he racked up 3.5 WAR in just 70 games. It’s no stretch seeing him as an 8 WAR/season stud at shortstop as long as he stays healthy. He can hit for average, had potential power, good range, and a good glove. True 5 tool players don’t grow on trees.
So, why would Franco sign this deal? He could potentially break records in arbitration and eventually free agency. Lots of pundits root for players to gamble on themselves, to try to break the bank so to speak. However…it’s $182,000,000. That”s a lot of security. Who can fault anyone for accepting lottery money? He also knows he’s the star of the Rays show and will now be with the team for a long time. Indeed, This not only takes him all the way through his arbitration years, it takes him into when he will have 10/5 rights. He has, in effect, signed up as a potential Ray for life.
This Rays fan ain’t complaining.