The Philadelphia Phillies and Scott Kingery don’t have to worry about service time implications after the two sides came to a six-year contract that runs through 2023 and includes team options in 2024, 2025, and 2026. That’s one way for a top prospect to ensure he makes the Opening Day roster, it seems.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets Kingery will make approximately $24 million in guarantees with his new deal. Matt Gelb of The Athletic Philadelphia adds Kingery’s deal could be worth as much as $65 million over nine years and shares details of the extension here. To be sure, it’s life-changing money for a prospect who has yet to see a single pitch in the big leagues.
In return, though, Kingery – who turns 24 next month – has signed away his arbitration years for much less than he’d get if he went year-to-year and justified his lofty prospect rankings (Kingery is MLB Pipeline’s top-rated second-base prospect, the Phillies’ second-highest-rated prospect, and 35th overall). Moreover, he’s given up three of his free agent years … if the option prices prove to be a bargain for the Phillies. Offering up *three* free agency option years this far from free agency is quite a team-friendly give, especially when they will take you so far past your prime years.
This isn’t the first time a team has traveled this road with a top-tier prospect. The Houston Astros did something similar when they called up first base prospect Jonathan Singleton in conjunction with a contract extension. Albeit, the move came in the middle of the season and not prior to one. Still, like Singleton before him, Kingery gets the cash without having any big league experience under his belt.
The relevance to the Cubs isn’t as obvious as it was when Singleton’s deal with Houston was announced. The Cubs don’t have an everyday position player prospect knocking down the door right now. As has been pointed out before, the Cubs’ top prospects all have rings (except Ian Happ) and are contributing to the big-league club. However, the Cubs still have several key players on pre-arb contracts who could possibly be interested in Kingery’s deal as a point of comparison. Moreover, there’s just the general relevance here: young players once again seem to be starting to take interesting/extreme extensions, perhaps fearing this year’s free agency freeze could play out far into the future.
And it’s not just the players: rather than paying a premium price for older free agents that might be seen as too rich for some, perhaps there will be an increase in teams starting to reward younger players with larger extensions instead.
As for the Phillies, Kingery figures to play a major role in accelerating Philadelphia’s rebuild, which recently received a boost via free agent addition Jake Arrieta. Is this the year they turn the corner? It’s hard to see with a loaded Nationals club ahead of them in the NL East, but we’ve seen young teams like this surprise in the Wild Card race before.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.