NS. PETERSBURG – The Rays are about to agree to a record-breaking blockbuster extension with young star Wander Franco that would keep the 20-year-old shortstop under contract for more than a decade.
Although the deal is still ongoing, Franco and the Rays agree on an 11-year contract extension that is an option for the 12th. A source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the deal is for a guaranteed $ 182 million and with the option and the supplement escalators can be exhausted to $ 223 million. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the contract will include $ 3 million escalators for the top 5 MVP placements starting in 2028, but does not include a no-trade clause.
The club has not confirmed the deal or commented on the negotiations, which is in line with its longstanding policy of negotiating contracts, and final details remain to be worked out. Assuming the deal is closed, it will be the largest contract in Rays history and the largest ever for a player with less than a year of service in the Major League.
Switch-hitting Franco has shown the slapping eye, plate discipline, and bat-to-ball skills that are all indicators of success. He’s an above average shortstop who can play anywhere in the infield. As manager Kevin Cash said, Franco could already be “the most influential player on any baseball team“. Now, more than three months from his 21st birthday, he’s on the verge of signing a monumental deal with a Rays club that has had a 100-win season and a second straight AL East championship.
The Rays have made deals like this before – Evan Longoria, Matt Moore, Chris Archer and Brandon Lowe signed long-term contracts early in their careers – but never at such a high price. Previously, the largest contract in Tampa Bay’s history was the $ 100 million six-year extension that Longoria signed in late 2012.
This was not a pressing issue regarding Franco’s club control. According to the current collective agreement, which expires next week, Franco will only be able to divorce after the 2024 season and will only achieve free representation after the ’27 season. Despite the way the Rays are constantly changing their list, a potential young superstar like Franco wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
When Franco’s renewal is complete, it will cover his three seasons before arbitration, all three eligible years, and five free agent seasons – possibly six if the Rays exercise his option. He’ll still have the chance to test the free agency market in his early 30s, roughly the same age as many of the top agents this off-season.
The deal carries risks on both sides. Given the mega-expansions signed by young shortstops Fernando Tatis Jr. and Francisco Lindor this year, Franco may have missed a chance to make a bigger payday for himself. And the Rays, operating on one of the lowest payrolls in the majors, will give a player a significant amount of money for more than a decade – a tenure where their Tropicana Field lease expires while they pursue a “sister city” – Plan that provides for a seasonal split between Tampa Bay and Montreal.