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Report: Rays, Wander Franco agree on 12-year, $223 million contract

The Rookie of the Year candidate is on his way to a long-term deal in the $200 million range, which would be largest for a player with his experience.

Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates his two-run homerun in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Update — Franco has signed a 12-year, $223 million contract with the Rays, per MLB Insider Hector Gomez. So we have somewhat conflicting reports, but the years and money are in the same ballpark. We’ll see if Topkin is right and the Rays wait until after the holiday to announce the deal.

Ken Rosenthal has some more details on the deal, which is 11 years with an option for a 12th year.

The Tampa Bay Rays and SS Wander Franco are working toward a deal in the 10-year, $200 million range, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday morning. The deal would be the largest for a player with less than one years worth of MLB experience.

The deal is not final, per Topkin, and we may not have the full details until after Thanksgiving on Thursday. You don’t often see players this young/with this amount of games get a massive deal. Usually, the team opts to eat up arbitration years until a player is eligible for free agency. The Rays would have likely let Franco walk on a massive free agent contract, but this secures the superstar for more years at a cheaper rate if he ends up being one of the top players in the League down the road.

Had Franco went the normal route and through arbitration, he would have been set to become a free agent in 2028. On a 12-year deal, the youngster won’t hit free agency until 2033, which takes up about five years. It’s a good deal for both sides. Franco gets paid in the short term and doesn’t have to worry about a contract in the future. The Rays get a discount and are banking on his potential while also eating up some free agency years.

Franco is only 20 years old and was a AL Rookie of the Year finalist despite playing half of 2021. He had 7 HRs and 39 RBI in 70 games while hitting .288 with an .810 OPS. Franco finished third in ROTY voting and lost the award to teammate Randy Arozarena. With those two under contract for the foreseeable future, Tampa Bay should contend long-term.