Christmas is exactly one month away, and for Rays fans, Christmas came early this year.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg opened his checkbook and wrote the largest check-in the history of the Rays as the team announced they have a tentative agreement with shortstop Wander Franco on an 11 year 182 million dollar contract.
The $182 million is guaranteed. There are other escalators in the contract that could max out the deal at $223 million. The Rays have a club option in the 12th year worth $25 million.
In June, Franco, just 20 years old, made his MLB debut with the Rays and played in just 55 regular-season games. Franco hit .288 with seven homers and 39 runs batted in. He made such an impact around the league in his first 55 games that he finished second in voting for the American League Rookie Of The Year, finishing behind teammate Randy Arozarena.
In the postseason, Franco was also Ray’s best hitter, hitting .368 with two home runs in the division series against Boston.
Franco is that kind can’t miss prospect. A generational talent. In the next two-three years, Franco will be the best shortstop in baseball and one of the top players in baseball, barring an injury.
Franco will be 32 years old before he can hit the free-agent market. This contract, once signed, will be the largest of its kind for a player with less than one year of service in MLB history.
The deal, once signed, also becomes the largest contract in Ray’s history and the largest contract ever given to a player on any of Tampa’s professional sports teams.
This is a good deal for both Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays. It gives Franco financial security for the next 11 seasons, and if Franco continues to improve like I think he will, five years into the deal, this contract will be a bargain for the Rays.
The Rays have the best executives and the best front office in baseball while having the worst baseball owner in sports.
The Rays are looking to build a new stadium in the area. This contract with Franco shows the Rays fans that maybe the Rays are committed to putting a playoff-caliber team on the field every year.
Vidal Brujan and Taylor Walls should also become everyday players in the Rays infield in the next few years.
The future truly is bright in Tampa for the Ray’s.
Franco is now the face of the Rays franchise. He will just be entering his prime when the Rays move into their new stadium for the 2028 season.