Drayer: Rodríguez’s deal with Mariners will help both sides for long time
With news breaking Friday morning that the Mariners and Julio Rodríguez were finalizing a massive contract extension, it appears the Mariners “step back,” “rebuilding,” “re-imagining” or whatever you want to call it rocketed onto the wildest dreams whiteboard.
The plan was clear. Step 1: tear down. Step 2: build up. Step 3: sustain.
All three steps, largely controllable.
The wild card? The wish list.
Step 4: lock up.
Starting with the day Evan White was signed to a Major League contract while still in Double A, Jerry Dipoto has been up front about his desire to extend young players. But as they say, it takes two to tango.
There’s risk on both sides, but the Mariners have been willing to go there. And oh have they gone there with Julio.
The extension, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, guarantees more than $210 million and could reach $470 million with length of contract ranging from 8-18 (!) years. Ultimately, the contract has the potential to be the largest both in years and dollars ever signed in MLB history. At the $210 million minimum, it would be one of the top 15 current contracts in baseball.
Needless to say, it will likely end up being the largest ever given by the Mariners, topping the $240 million deal they signed Robinson Canó to in 2013.
This contract however, is far more complicated than the Canó deal. From the Passan report:
“The base of the deal is for eight years and $120 million. It includes this season and runs through 2029. After 2028, the Mariners must decide whether to pick up a club option. The size and length of that depends on Rodriguez’s performance in MVP voting.
“The option is for eight or 10 years on top of the original deal. Depending on how Rodríguez fares in MVP voting — wins and finishes — it can range anywhere from $200-$350 million. If the Mariners pick up the option, Rodríguez’s guarantee in the deal is at least $320.
“Now, if the Mariners don’t pick up the option after Year 7, Rodríguez has a player option after Year 8 for five years and $90 million — thus, the 13-year structure and $210 million floor. He could turn it down and hit free agency right before his 30th birthday, too.”
It is an interesting deal, to say the least. At first glance — and this will take some time to process — it has the appearance of a deal that has the potential to work well for both sides. There is risk, of course, but it is not hard to understand the commitment. particularly from the Mariners’ side.
While he has just 108 big league games under his belt, the Mariners have known Rodríguez since he was 16. Truth be told, by the time he made his big league debut, there were few questions left to be answered. They knew the person and had seen him grow. They know his process. They see him not only as a superstar, but a generational talent. They understand the value of having that kind of player. And as we learned today, they were willing to make that financial commitment.
For Rodríguez, he could have bet on himself. He could have taken the risk with the reward being settling for perhaps record setting arbitration years and then onto the big prize of free agency after the 2027 season at just 27 years old, very much in the prime of his career. Free agency is still out there, but Passan, for one, believes it will be a long time, if ever, that he hits the open market.
The likeliest outcome? Julio Rodriguez is a Seattle Mariner through 2037 and makes at least $320 million. Probably much more. And if he turns into the monster that he shown he is in his rookie season, it could be the most financially lucrative deal in American sports history.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 26, 2022
Such a deal will catch the attention of others. The look is nothing but good from the outside with the Mariners getting the job done. This in contrast to what was seen with the Nationals and their young superstar Juan Soto, both in and out of season.
All the while, Julio will get the chance shine in Seattle in a spotlight that he helps bring to the Mariners. Perhaps others will want to join him.
Robbie Ray noticed something in the group he saw across the field last September when he made the trip to Seattle with the Blue Jays. He told a national audience in an in-game interview on the FOX broadcast last weekend that the commitment to winning baseball and seeing the team having fun were the extras that helped him make his decision to sign with the Mariners early in the offseason. A move like this should amplify what Ray saw a year ago.
It’s tough to think of a much better ambassador for the Mariners than Julio Rodríguez. With this deal, he should hold that post for a very long time.