The Tampa Bay Rays have found their guy! Wander Franco, the 20-year-old shortstop who was 3rd in rookie of the year voting for the 2021 season, just signed a massive 12 year $182 million guaranteed contract extension with the Rays. The new extension with incentives and bonuses could add up to a total of $223 million.
Franco has only played 70 games in the majors so some could say it is a risk for the Rays to commit to the young infielder. On the other hand, this contract extension may be the best thing to happen to the Tampa Bay Rays and the MLB.
Long Term Commitment is Unusual
After six years of MLB playing service, a young ballplayer is eligible to hit the free-agent market. Very rarely do teams sign a player to either an extension or new contract this early in one’s MLB service.
The fact that the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to commit to this young man is a great thing for baseball. The MLB is struggling to get a younger audience and with the constant turnover of players, it can be difficult for new fans to get attached to players for their favorite franchise.
If more teams decided to extend their young stars earlier, fans will get more attached, buy more memorabilia, attend more games, and therefore bring new faces to the front of the MLB landscape.
Recently among all the major sports, athletes do not start and finish their careers with the same franchise. It is ultimately a business and the players know that but this signing is a huge move for the Rays to lock up a potential hall of fame infielder. The MLB should be excited about this extension and be hopeful that other franchises follow in the Rays footsteps.
Tampa Bay Needs A Face of the Franchise
The Tampa Bay Rays have been a World Series contender as of late with three consecutive years of postseason play. Any other team in this situation would be spending big dollars to bring in big names in hopes it brings a championship to their franchise. Not the Rays. They stick to their morals and continue to find ways to win from within and with their budget.
A franchise that is showing signs of being consistently successful needs to have a face. A mainstream player that fans, players, and media can get behind. In their first set of playoff runs between 2008-2013 that was Evan Longoria. Up until last season, the Rays didn’t have a “guy” that people relate to with the Rays. Now they do.
The extension of the young Franco shows Tampa Bay Rays fans that this team is committed to winning and they are done allowing the “rich” franchises in the MLB to continue to sign away their beloved prospects. It is always hard to wonder what the Rays plans are with each season but this signing says it loud and clear that they plan on competing for a championship for many years.
This signing may help the Rays establish themselves amongst the elite in baseball or it may even bring some free agents into town with a young high profile star in Wander Franco.