Burgeoning superstar Wander Franco received a $182 million mega-deal for his 12-year contract extension from the Tampa Bay Rays. He is slated to receive a maximum of $223 million. It is regarded as the largest contract in the history of Rays, surpassing the six-year, $100 million extension contract received by Evan Longoria in 2012. It is remarkable considering that Franco has served Rays only for less than a year. It reiterates Rays’ belief in the potential of the 20-year-old who displayed excellent skills so far.
Interestingly, Rays has spent only a combined $348 million in free agency since its inception in 1998, according to Cot’s Contracts. Observers pointed out that Rays are spending more than half that figure on one player now. Franco is getting such support from his team because of his superb rookie performance when he hit .288/.347/.463, including .338/.393/.541 over his final 33 games. He reached base in 43 consecutive games.
The record of Rays in recent seasons is also good. They clinched 96 wins and the playoffs in 2019 and won a division title. Besides claiming a franchise-record 100 wins, they have completed a trip to the World Series in 2020. They have also clinched a division title this year.
Some of their best position players were Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows and Willy Adames in 2019. Brandon Lowe was their star in 2020, while Lowe (4.7 WAR) and Randy Arozarena (4.1 WAR) claimed the honors this year.
Franco, who hit .331 in his minor league career, is considered one of the best pure hit tools in a long time. His line-drive power and contact ability have been regarded as the best in business. Franco produced 3.5 WAR in 70 games, via Baseball-Reference.
It remains to be seen whether the new deal will also increase the value of other young players in the league.