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The Tampa Bay Rays Are Signing Wander Franco to a Monster Extension (UPDATE: Maybe Less Monster)

Chicago Cubs

He was immediately one of the brightest young prospects in the game, and this year he immediately became one of the brightest young stars in the game. And now, with less than a year of service time to his name, Wander Franco is locking down one of the largest guarantees in baseball.

Per reports, Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays are signing a huge extension:

Franco, a 20-year-old switch-hitting shortstop, hit .288/.347/.463 (127 wRC+) in his big league debut this year, and is a virtual lock to be a superstar for years to come so long as he stays healthy. Everyone is in agreement on this point, thus the willingness to guarantee over $200 million to such a young and inexperienced player.

What’s interesting, though, is the team doing the guaranteeing. This, obviously, is not typically in the Rays’ wheelhouse. Although they love them some pre-arbitration extensions, they never look this enormous. It makes you wonder what they think is coming in the future, not only with their own stadium situation (and the split-city plan, and the money), but also with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Any chance the Rays are thinking that younger players, in particular, are about to get way more expensive (as the union seems to hope)? And maybe players will reach free agency a click sooner? So they’re rolling the dice that locking Franco down now at an $18 to $20 million AAV (or whatever) is going to look like a bargain as soon as he’s 22 or 23?

More soon.

UPDATE: Well this looks quite a bit less enormous:

I mean, a $15.4 million AAV? That’s downright cheap. I know the guarantee is significant for a player of his age, but this looks like a no-brainer bet for the Rays. No blame for Franco for taking life-changing money, but that’s not nearly as impressive as it looked like it initially could be.

UPDATE 2: AAV goes back up:

Now it’s $16.8 million AAV. Still dirt cheap, even for a young player like this. Very little chance of regret down the road by the Rays.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.