How good was phenom Wander Franco’s rookie season in 2021? So good that it really compelled the Tampa Bay Rays to spend cash. Simply earlier than Turkey Day, the crew and Franco got here to an settlement on a large deal that would attain 12 years and $223 million.
Shortstop Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays are in settlement on a 12-year contract that ensures him round $185 million, sources inform ESPN. The deal is price a most of $223 million. It’s executed, pending small particulars. The 20-year-old goes to be a Ray for a very long time.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 23, 2021
Since that is baseball, this isn’t a kind of NFL offers during which somebody lands a comma-laden prime quantity however, if you learn the finer particulars, it seems that an enormous chunk of that cash is a roster bonus due in 4 years that may by no means be paid off. Eleven years and $182 million of Franco’s deal is assured, with the majority of the remainder coming from a $25 million membership choice for 2033 and a bit of extra in incentives that kick in for ending the highest 5 within the AL MVP voting beginning in 2028.
This deal is the brand new all-time report for a participant with lower than a full 12 months of service time; the earlier no. 1 was Ronald Acuña Jr.‘s extension price as much as $100 million, an settlement that this one primarily laps. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s contract is a bigger one at 14 years and $340 million, however he was additionally a participant who had cleared two years of service time when he signed on the dotted line, giving him extra monetary leverage over the Padres.
Franco completed “solely” third in AL Rookie of the 12 months voting, however this was largely as a result of the truth that voters give a heavy penalty to an incredible participant with much less taking part in time, one thing I’ve direct expertise with. The winner, his teammate Randy Arozarena, bested him in WAR, 3.3 to 2.5, however he wanted twice as many video games to get that far above alternative stage. There was little query Franco was prepared, as he hit .313/.372/.583 in 40 video games for Triple-A Durham. These weren’t flash Albuquerque or Las Vegas numbers both; ZiPS translated that efficiency as a .281/.328/.473 line, not all that totally different from the precise .288/.347/.463 line he put up for Tampa Bay.
In case it already wasn’t clear after years of him being the consensus greatest prospect in baseball, the ZiPS projection for Franco can also be that of a younger star.
ZiPS Projection – Wander Franco
Clearly, the potential exists for him to hit larger numbers in his peak seasons; bottom-line projections are Fiftieth-percentile projections and can naturally be a lot much less unstable than what really occurs. However once I ran the 2022 projections for all of the probably topics, due to Acuña’s ACL damage, the one participant that ZiPS tasks to build up extra WAR than Franco over the remainder of their respective careers is Juan Soto.
The massive query on the market: is the contract truthful to each events? In any case, one could make the argument that Franco might have earned far more by merely taking part in his means via baseball’s wage course of and hitting free company after the 2027 season.
To that query, I’m within the “sure” camp. The Rays have a substantial amount of monetary leverage with Franco two seasons away from his first arbitration 12 months, assuming that he would obtain Tremendous Two standing after the 2023 season at two years, 104 days of service time. However by the identical token, I don’t count on the Rays to pay him as if he had been a free agent, both. What I personally prefer to see is a contract that displays the dangers that each events absorb a long-term deal with out being grossly weighted in a single route or the opposite. Name it actuarial fetishism, however a contract like Ozzie Albies‘ seven-year, $35 million contract offends me as an analyst in a means that this deal doesn’t.
I’m unsure why I haven’t constructed this into the usual ZiPS mannequin (I most likely will after this ZiPS season is over), however I constructed a small simulation for the way a lot Franco might make going year-to-year after which signing a mega-deal relative to what he’ll really get. Within the Fiftieth-percentile projection, with near-minimum salaries in 2022 and ’23, arbitration projections, and free-agent contract projections, ZiPS estimates $297 million over the subsequent 12 years. That is effectively above the $223 million he can max out at, however that’s not the entire story, both. The upside isn’t tremendously excessive, with the Ninetieth-percentile projection going as much as $360 million. Franco might work out how one can pitch like Jacob deGrom this offseason, and he’ll nonetheless get comparatively paltry sums of cash for the subsequent few years; arbitration awards don’t scale up linearly for superstars. And the draw back is important. His Tenth-percentile end result finally ends up with him making lower than $20 million over his profession, and in 35% of the simulations, he falls wanting $182 million. By comparability, on the time of their signings, Acuña falls wanting his assured deal solely 17% of the time, and Albies does worse solely 9% of the time. One other pure comparability is when the Rays signed Evan Longoria per week into his main league profession to a contract price a assured $17.5 million over six years; ZiPS solely had him doing worse than that contract in 11% of the simulations.
The longer term is a really unsure factor, as demonstrated by the very weak 2021 seasons from Cody Bellinger and Gleyber Torres. These younger stars would most likely be higher off proper now if that they had signed $150 million contracts after their rookie campaigns. Since each Mets fan is born with a genetic catalog of tales of unhappiness and loss, ask somebody in Queens their emotions about Gregg Jefferies, who put up an OPS over 1.000 as a 19-year-old for Double-A Tidewater and a .961 OPS in his first cup of espresso earlier than settling into a good, however disappointing, 20-WAR profession.
It doesn’t matter what occurs with Franco, he’s principally a fifth of the best way to turning into a billionaire earlier than the taxman will get concerned. The Rays leveraged their place — as you count on folks to do in wage negotiations — however not in a grotesque means. If I had been an agent and Franco had been my shopper, I’d increase no fuss about him taking this deal. He’s considered one of baseball’s vivid younger stars, one MLB can be smart to market round, and now he can afford an entourage worthy of his skills. Thumbs up throughout from me.