The Prospect Gets Paid

The Rays gave Wander Franco the largest contract in franchise history Tuesday — and still snagged an unbelievable bargain.

Franco signed an 11-year contract worth $182 million guaranteed with a club option for a 12th season, per Jeff Passan. The maximum value of the deal is $223 million. 

MLB’s 2020 No. 1 prospect is only 20, with 70 games and 308 at-bats to his name, but the early returns indicate this could be the steal of the decade.

  • His 3.5 single season WAR was the sixth-highest for a player with 70 games or fewer since 1990. 
  • He reached base in 43 consecutive games, tied with Frank Robinson for the most in MLB history for a player under 21. 
  • He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Randy Arozarena and Houston’s Luis Garcia

Tuesday’s blockbuster is also the largest contract for a player under 21 in MLB history, but the bargain lies in the $16.5 million AAV, which is only 62nd in the league — and the fact that the guaranteed total value of $182 million ranks 20th in MLB. 

Part of the shock is owed to Tampa’s 26th-ranked 2021 payroll ($70.8M) — the notoriously frugal club’s previous record was Evan Longoria’s six-year, $100 million deal in 2012.

The only way this investment turns sour is if the super-prospect doesn’t become a star — which, given what Franco has shown so far, isn’t a likely scenario.