Mariners and Julio Rodriguez complete 14-year extension

11:44 a.m.: The exact terms of the contract are a $210 million guarantee over 14 years, ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweet. That said, Passan adds that it is an extremely complex structure that includes both player options and club options. This $450 million cap will attract a lot of attention, but it’s virtually unprecedented for any player to fully maximize the incentives, escalators and option requirements needed to lock in the maximum value of a long-term contract. Further illustrating this improbability, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweet that, options included, the contract could last up to 20 years.

11:29 a.m.: Mariners finalize extension with center fielder and AL Rookie of the Year candidate Julio Rodriguezreports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter link). He is expected to guarantee Rodriguez more than $200 million. There are options, incentives and escalators that could make the deal worth around $450 million over a period yet to be determined. Rodriguez is represented by Octagon.

Rodriguez, 21, broke camp with the Mariners this season and, after a tough few weeks to start the year, shot to instant stardom and established himself as a favorite for Rookie of the Year honors. . He’s currently hitting .269/.328/.471 with 20 homers, 19 doubles, three triples and 23 interceptions (on 29 tries) — plus above-average defensive contributions in center field.

Those numbers are at least slightly skewed by a poor start to the year in which Rodriguez beat .136 / .208 / .159 with a 45% strikeout rate. Since April 22, Rodriguez has crushed a .285/.342/.508 clip. That production is around 46% above league average after weighting for park and league, per wRC+ metric, putting Rodriguez in a three-way tie with Alex Bregman and the also recently extended austin riley for 12th best among Major League skilled hitters. Rodriguez also ranks 13th in the Majors in both average exit speed (92 mph) and hard hit rate (49.6%) during this span, and his barrel rate of 14.9% in this streak is the ninth highest rating in MLB.

Add to that the fact that he did all of this at 21 and after skipping the Triple-A level entirely, and Rodriguez’s rookie season becomes all the more remarkable. Given this youth and the lack of seasoning of the upper minors, it’s quite possible that while Rodriguez already ranks among the best hitters in the game, we haven’t even seen the best he has to offer yet.

Defensively, Rodriguez has more than held up in center field this season, earning positive ratings in Defensive Runs Saved (2), Ultimate Zone Rating (0.3), and Outs Above Average (5). Numerous scouting reports written prior to his MLB debut suggested that as Rodriguez ages and continues to fill out he may be destined for an outside corner spot, but given his raw 70 or even 80 power and the solid work he has done at the centre. season, he will have both the bat and probably the defensive chops to be an above-average contributor in right or left field.

The $210 million guarantee on this contract will give Rodriguez the record for the biggest contract ever signed by a player with less than a year of service time in the Major League. That accolade currently belongs to the Rays shortstop Take a walk Francowho signed an 11-year, $182 million contract last November.

Rodriguez will knock this mark down with ease, although it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Franco was not promoted until mid-season and signed his contract in the winter, when the Rays still had six full seasons of club control over him. Because Rodriguez made the opening day roster, he will get a full year of service in 2022 and would have “only” had “only” five more years in control of the club. In this regard, Rodriguez could technically be considered a player plus one (between one and two years of service time), although even looking at the contract through this lens, it is still a record deal; Ke’Bryan Hayes‘ A $70 million extension to Pittsburgh was the previous record for a player with between one and two years of service.

Whichever slice of service is thought to be more appropriate for Rodriguez, this new 14-year contract is now the biggest contract ever promised to a player with less than two years of service in the Major League. In that regard, Rodriguez and the Major League Baseball Players Association are surely thrilled to see the precedent for young superstar extensions go even further.

That said, it’s still possible the contract could be quite favorable for the Mariners. Rodriguez likely would have earned near league minimum wage over the next two seasons (plus all payments from the newly collectively negotiated bonus pool for pre-offer players). A player with his advantage and early dominance would probably have done very well in officiating, and while we may never know exactly how much he could have gained through this process, arbitration is usually based on precedent. In search of recent comparables, Mookie Bets earned $57.5 million for his three officiating seasons. If we put Rodriguez in that broad neighborhood, his last five years in control of the club could have netted him somewhere in the $60 million range – maybe a few million more had he won an MVP award and/or pushed the previous Betts one step further.

If Betts is even a vaguely accurate barometer for Rodriguez’s officiating, the Mariners appear to be locking up what would have been nine free-agent seasons at a total cost of around $150 million. That $16.67 million annual value obviously pales in comparison to what Rodriguez could have made on the open market had he gone year-over-year and hit the free agent market before his season. 27, but such is the nature of the first contract extensions. There is obviously a significant risk of injury or reduced performance for Rodriguez, which is built into the relative discount rate for these free market seasons.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that if the contract has player options and/or exclusion clauses, as Passan suggests, Rodriguez could well hit the ‘eject’ button on the deal and enter the agency. free at an earlier date anyway. The $210m figure is the minimum he’s guaranteed if he plays out the 14-year term of that deal, but an opt-out in his late 20s or early 30s could change the math. (as could all incentives/escalators based on rewards and club options – which are usually traded in extensions of this nature).

From a team pay perspective, there’s plenty of room for Seattle to make a commitment of this nature. A significant portion of the team’s recent rebuild has been devoted to eliminating long-term book clutter – for example, the Robinson Cano trade — and the team’s long-term commitments are now rather minimal. left handed Robbie Ray is signed until the 2026 season, as is the shortstop JP Crawford, but they’ll combine for just $37 million at that point. This would have only been Rodriguez’s fifth season in the big leagues, so his contract wages likely won’t have peaked yet.

In the shorter term, books are also still accommodating. The Mariners, who will see veterans Mitch Haniger and Adam Frazier reach free agency at the end of the season, had just over $63 million in guaranteed money on the 2023 payroll prior to this contract. This number does not include an $8 million right-hander option. Chris Flexonnor does it include a handful of arbitrage raises: castle louis (earning $7.35 million this season), Diego’s Castle ($2.315 million), Paul Sewald ($1.735M), France (pre-arbitration) and Erik Swanson (pre-arb). That said, Rodriguez’s salary figures are quite low in the first few seasons of the deal, so it shouldn’t affect the team’s results in 2023 at all.

More soon.

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