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Report: Rays, Franco agree to record 11-year, $182M extension

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The notoriously frugal Tampa Bay Rays have opened up their wallets for Wander Franco.

Tampa Bay is closing in on a record-setting long-term contract extension with the 20-year-old shortstop, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

It will be an 11-year contract worth $182 million in guaranteed money, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan. The deal also includes a $25-million club option in 2034 that, if exercised, would max out the contract at $223 million, Passan reports. Franco will receive annual $3-million escalator clauses for top-five AL MVP finishes starting in 2028.

The extension buys out all of Franco's arbitration and pre-arb years and delays his free agency by at least five seasons. If the option is exercised, he'll be age 33 by the time he becomes a free agent for the first time.

Once completed, it will be the largest contract ever given to a player with less than one year of service time, easily topping the eight-year, $100-million contract Ronald Acuna Jr. signed in 2019. Before Franco, the largest deal ever handed out by the Rays was Evan Longoria's six-year, $100-million extension in 2013.

Franco was the top prospect in baseball prior to his highly anticipated MLB debut in June. He hit .288/.347/.463 with seven homers, 39 RBIs, and 29 extra-base hits across 70 games, finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting despite just 308 plate appearances.

The switch-hitter also put together an on-base streak of 43 games that tied Hall of Famer Frank Robinson's record for the longest streak by a player age 20 or younger.

The Rays have fielded some of MLB's lowest payrolls for the majority of the past decade. In 2021, their Opening Day payroll ranked 26th out of 30 teams, marking the first time in seven years they were not in the bottom three.

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