At just 20-years old, infielder and Dominican Republic native Wander Franco is seen as a building block with the Tampa Bay Rays.
He’s now being paid like it after a mere 70 Major League Baseball games. According to MLB insider Hector Gomez, Franco has signed an eye-opening 12-year, $223 million extension with the Rays that will keep him with the organization through some of his prime years.
For Tampa Bay, this represents the largest contract the organization has ever handed out to a pre-arbitration eligible player. It’s also the largest contract a player with less than one year of service time has received in MLB history.
In 70 games as a rookie, Wander Franco hit a solid .288 to go with seven homers, 39 RBI and an .810 OPS. He ended up finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Related: Top MLB free agents this winter
Wander Franco contract is the new norm
We’ve seen the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr. and others receive huge deals before they even hit arbitration. For the players, it’s all about a sense of long-term security while still boasting the ability to hit free agency in their prime years.
For small-market teams like the Rays, it’s all about retaining their core players on the relative cheap before they have proven to be worth any more.
Signed to the Rays’ organization as an international free agent back in 2017, Wander Franco made his minor league debut the following summer.
He proved himself big time in the minors, hitting .331 with a .934 OPS in parts of three seasons — enabling the stud youngster to be fast-tracked to the majors. He’s now cashing in after less than a half of season playing big league ball.