Tampa Bay Rays commit to Wander Franco as new face of franchise

The Tampa Bay Rays have never been a team to shy away from extending their younger players. Regardless of how much time they have spent in the majors, or even if they have reached the major league level, the Rays will look to keep those players they feel can be a part of their core. From Evan Longoria and Matt Moore on to the present day, those early extensions are a part of the Rays indentity.

Wander Franco can now be added to that list. The Rays are reportedly set to sign him to a record 12 year extension that can be worth up to $223 million.

Tampa Bay Rays make Wander Franco new face of franchise

That extension shattered the previous record for a deal signed by a player with less than one year of experience. Ronald Acuña Jr. had signed an eight year deal worth $100 million with the Braves, a contract that certainly looks to be a bargain at this point. The Rays are hoping the same will be the case with Franco’s deal.

It is easy to feel optimistic that will be the case. Franco had been the top prospect in all of baseball, a player expected to be a future superstar. He quickly rose through the minors, making his major league debut last season. Franco impressed with a 129 OPS+ with seven homers and 18 doubles in his 308 plate appearances in Tampa Bay, showing that he was ready for the majors even though he was just 20 years old.

There is risk for both sides in this deal. For Franco, there is a chance that he is leaving a great deal of money on the table. Carlos Correa, who is the same age that Franco would be had he reached free agency, is looking for a $300 million contract, a total Franco will not see in this deal. The Rays, meanwhile, are taking the risk that he will remain healthy and productive, a solid gamble based on his age.

The Rays are also making more than a financial commitment to Franco. With that contract, he will now be the new face of the franchise, someone that the team markets and builds their brand around. Both the Rays and Franco need this contract to work out in order to maximize its potential.

Wander Franco has signed the largest extension for a player with less than one year in the majors. He is now the face of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise.