J-Rod’s blockbuster contract with M’s is fittingly unique

Aug 27, 2022, 5:25 AM | Updated: 6:11 pm

Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodriguez blows a bubble as he runs to the dugout while leaving the field d...

Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodriguez blows a bubble as he runs to the dugout while leaving the field during the second inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

SEATTLE (AP) — Julio Rodríguez was a few minutes late for his own party, the result of dealing with Seattle traffic that will be part of his daily routine at home for likely the next decade — and potentially much longer.

When Rodríguez arrived Saturday to discuss his massive contract extension, several teammates and coaches who have embraced the 21-year-old in his debut season were seated in the back of the room.

“This is not about the contract and how long it is. I would love to be a Mariner for the rest of my career and playing for the Mariners fans,” Rodríguez said. “I’d love to be here for the rest of my career, play with a lot of these guys here and be managed by Scott (Servais), have Ty (France) as my baby sitter. I genuinely mean that. I love being here.”

Rodriguez signed the 26th contract in baseball for $200 million or more on Friday, ensuring a long-term future as a cornerstone for the Mariners. It’s a unique and complicated contract that could reach nearly $470 million and is befitting a burgeoning star with the talent and charisma to entice a region desperate for winning baseball.

It wasn’t lost on anyone in attendance that Rodriguez’s deal in Seattle almost never happened. Only a last-second effort when Rodriguez signed in July 2017 at age 16 landed him in Seattle when it seemed like the Angels were his destination.

“It feels very cool to just drive around the city and see (No.) 44 jerseys,” said Rodriguez, who hails from the Dominican Republic. “And it really touched my heart because as I said, I come from a place, Loma de Cabrera, 20,000 people, and there was more people in the stands yesterday than was in my hometown. So it feels pretty special to me.”

As much as the sides didn’t want Saturday’s event to focus on the contract, it is a unique deal. The first conversations happened in early July about whether Rodríguez would be interested in a deal that cemented his future in Seattle. The response from his representatives was that it had to be unique considering the player.

What started as a basic straightforward type contract and grew over the process of the conversations wasn’t finished until just before the official announcement on Friday night.

“We started with something that looked very basic and came out with something that looked like hieroglyphics,” Seattle president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said. “But again, the uniqueness of trying to capture what Julio has a chance to achieve in his career and to be fair with him about what that could look like in the end was a challenge.”

There wasn’t back and forth. It was a collaborative evolution of the deal that Seattle’s needs, Rodríguez’s potential and created different points of flexibility.

But it is complicated.

At its most straight forward, the deal is a $209.3 million, 12-year contract starting next season. It could be worth $469.6 million over 17 years if he wins two MVP awards.

The contract includes seven seasons, a five-year player option, an eight-year club option with award escalators and the possibility the option could extend to 10 years.

Keep following.

If the club option is exercised, the deal would be worth $309.3 million for 12 years. If Rodríguez earns two MVP awards by 2028 or finishes among the top five in voting four times, the deal would boost to $469.6 million, including postseason award bonuses.

If Seattle turns down a one-time team option for 2030-37 — which must be exercised after the 2028 World Series — there is a mutual option that could be exercised after the 2029 Series calling for $168 million from 2030-36. There also is a player option that guarantees $90 million from 2030-34.

Get all that?

“The very first conversation set the tone,” Rodríguez’s representative, Ulises Cabrera, said describing the development of the deal. “If we are going to look at this in the typical lens, that is not going to work. And so there’s going to be points probably in this conversation that what I say won’t make sense. And what you say won’t make sense, either. But we’re going to have to just be comfortable with that because, right now, we’re kind of starting something that we don’t have any blueprint to point to.”

The contract also includes a full no-trade clause. Some of the escalators tied to the deal and MVP voting were suggestions from Rodríguez’s side, and betting on his continued upswing in production.

“There were a lot of pathways that helped us lead Julio to various stops along the way, and what could we do to recognize his potential at that (point),” Dipoto said. “And what we did was we focused on a variety of different contracts that had been done around the league and we stole from parts of those, and then we created something in that space, recognizing that no one’s ever really done this before.”


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

J-Rod’s blockbuster contract with M’s is fittingly unique