Morosi: Why a Mariners-Ty France extension isn’t as simple as it’d seem
Since the Mariners acquired Ty France at the 2020 trade deadline, all he’s done is hit.
In 220 games with the Mariners, France is slashing .301/.375/.455 with 251 hits, 75 extra-base hits and 117 RBIs and has found a defensive home at first base. France played a career-high 152 games in 2021 and posted a 4.3 WAR.
France has taken his game to another level in 2022, slashing .331/.406/.489 with 16 extra-base hits (six home runs) and 31 RBIs in 45 games. He’s also struck out just 22 times to 15 walks. Entering Friday, France has 2.3 WAR already, which is tied for seventh in all of baseball.
With France being one of the best hitters not just on the team, but in all of baseball, over the last two seasons, it may seem like a no-brainer for the Mariners to extend him and keep him in Seattle for years to come. But is that what’s going to happen?
MLB Network insider Jon Morosi joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob Thursday afternoon for his weekly visit and explained why a Mariners-France extension isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.
“It’s a great question about about the long-term. First of all, he’ll be an All-Star, in my opinion … He just keeps driving in runs,” Morosi said. “His story is pretty amazing. Obviously he’s a player who played for Tony Gwynn, the late great Tony Gwynn, a Hall of Famer, at San Diego State. And when you think about just a natural hitter, who better to learn from them than No. 19, the greatest? I mean, obviously, you can tell just his love for hitting is there.”
Additionally, Morosi noted, France “was not a blue chip guy” as he was a 34th-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. There are now just 20 rounds in each draft.
“I just love what he’s made himself. You can tell he loves to hit,” Morosi said.
So, France can hit at a high clip and is arguably the best player on the Mariners and appears to be All-Star Game-bound for the first time in his career. So why does Morosi think a long-term deal for France is unlikely for the time being?
“What’s unique about where we are now, in terms of where where he is at, I think the Mariners will probably want to see a little bit more before they sign him long-term because he’s 27,” Morosi said. “Basically what I’m saying is you’re already paying him on a year-by-year basis (and) you already have his prime … He still has three years left before free agency after this year … So he’ll be right at 30 or 31 when he becomes a free agent (after 2025), which is sometimes at a time when you would see players’ production diminish a little bit.”
Morosi said there have been other “late bloomers” with elite bat-to-ball skills like France has who have earned lucrative deals in their early-30s, but he doesn’t think what the Mariners would currently offer France would be too appealing.
“I’m sure the Mariners probably have some numbers in mind that they would offer him right now,” he said. “It would be incredibly team-friendly, so he may not sign it. But that’s where you talk about how much of a discount would he take? It’s a really interesting dilemma.”
Morosi said France’s situation shows why it’s important for players to get promoted to MLB as soon as possible so they can start their service time clocks. The earlier a player makes their debut, the earlier they can hit free agency or use that looming free agency period to get a possible contract extension.
For France, he debuted about three months before he turned 25 years old in 2019 and will be 31 when his current contract expires at the end of the 2025 season.
“With France, they may just say, ‘Listen, you’re 27, so we’re just gonna go year-to-year with you because you’re going to become a free agent right as your prime kind of hits and maybe starts to wane a little bit,'” Morosi said. ” … I think that maybe they find a way to extend them by a year or two, but because of how old he is, and what he’s making right now, he’s not going to be set up for these mega-dollar, mega-year extensions, just because of how old he was when he finally made it to the major leagues and is now making a huge impact.”
Listen to the full interview with Morosi at this link or in the player below.