Wander Franco agrees to contract extension with Tampa Bay Rays

Wander Franco has always been young for his accomplishments and baseball conquests. 

Add this one to the list: massive contract extension. 

The Tampa Bay Rays and the 20-year-old shortstop agreed to an 11-year deal worth $182 million, with an option for a 12th year for a total of $223 million, according to USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale. 

Previously, the largest contract in Rays history was the six-year, $100 million extension to Evan Longoria in 2012. It’s also the largest deal for a player with less than one full year of service time. Ronald Acuna Jr. signed an eight-year, $100 million deal with the Braves in 2019.

The switch-hitting native of the Dominican Republic debuted in June as the sport’s top prospect and lived up to the hype, finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year voting despite playing in just 70 games. 

He batted .288 with seven home runs and 39 RBI, but made headlines for a 43-game on-base streak. 

Tampa Bay signed the shortstop for $3.825 million on July 2, 2017, the earliest a team could ink Franco, then 16 years old. He was the MVP of the rookie-level Appalachian League after batting .351 with 11 home runs and 57 RBI a little more than year later. 

Franco kept shining in 2019, hitting .327/.398/.487 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) between the Class A and Class A Advanced levels. With the minor league season canceled in 2020, Franco spent time at the Rays’ alternate training site alongside future big league teammates. He posted a .954 on-base plus  slugging percentage to start the 2021 season with Class AAA Durham before the Rays called him up. 

And on Tuesday, the Rays and Franco decided they were ready for a decade-plus together. 

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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