By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports activities MLB Author
Julio Eternally, or near it.
On Friday morning, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported that the Mariners and their rookie sensation, Julio Rodríguez, had agreed to an enormous contract extension that might hold the 21-year-old Dominican outfielder in Seattle till 2036. Relying on opt-outs and sure escalators, the contract might attain as excessive as $470 million, which might make this the one largest contract in MLB historical past by whole worth.
It is an enormous deal, a no brainer and a monumental second for a franchise that has spent the previous 20 Octobers on trip. With this extension, potential turns into actuality, the lofty future turns into a tangible current and the Mariners safe a generational athlete for a era to come back.
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Julio Rodríguez has every little thing you’d ever need from a franchise participant: immense expertise, ardour for the sport, ambition to proceed bettering, indomitable pleasure, respect within the locker room, oodles of charisma and a beaming smile that might gentle up even the gloomiest Seattle sky. He’s the reality, the grand ideally suited and a face of the game. He is the kind of baseballer you give a clean verify to, and extra importantly, the kind of person who, as a fan, you let your self fall in love with.
His character is infectious, his vitality boundless, his childlike vibe unmistakably pure. Of us across the Mariners have joked that they cannot even imagine he is an actual particular person. Mountains of expertise and he is a pleasant dude? Inconceivable! Too good to be true!
However he’s actual. And, now, the long run is much more so.
For the Mariners, there’s positively nonetheless some danger concerned, as there may be in each huge contract extension. Guaranteeing a participant $210 million simply 108 video games into his MLB profession is a roll of the cube, a big gamble that what we have seen is a harbinger of what is to come back. Nevertheless it’s a leap of religion price taking. The choice is simply too dangerous, too unpalatable to even take into account.
Simply ask the Washington Nationals.
The Nats did not critically have interaction Soto in extension talks till it was too late. Soto went from a promising rookie to the most effective younger hitters we would ever seen within the blink of an eye fixed. His worth appropriately skyrocketed, and that generational Dominican celebrity outfielder flew above and past Washington’s most well-liked worth vary. Juan Soto is now on the Padres.
It is easy: When a possible “Eternally Participant” exhibits up in your doorstep, you let him in, and you do not let him go away.
Even Fernando Tatis Jr., subluxated shoulder, bike accident and PED suspension and all, is proof of this. “El Niño” signed his personal titanic extension previous to the 2021 season and proved its price instantly with a third-place MVP end. His legacy, his recognition and his status have undeniably taken an enormous hit after latest occasions, however Tatis remains to be a baller. Even with all that is gone horrifically improper for Tatis and the Padres in 2022, come 2023 and past, he is nonetheless prone to play at or close to an elite stage. And he’ll be doing it in San Diego.
So which workforce would you fairly be? The workforce that pulled the set off on an extension and has needed to sift by a mountain of stress and disappointment this season, however nonetheless has a comparatively shiny future? Or the workforce that has to observe its beloved celebrity — the participant followers thought would at some point have a curly W emblem embossed in bronze ceaselessly in upstate New York — gallivant in another person’s laundry?
In different phrases: It’s higher to have supplied an enormous extension and misplaced than by no means to have gotten settlement on an extension in any respect.
In all methods doable, Rodríguez’s debut marketing campaign has been a roaring success, the inevitable coronation of a high prospect destined for superstardom. By 108 video games, he has a slash line of .269/.328/.471, good for a 132 OPS+ (32 % higher than the league common) and a 4.3 bWAR. He has smashed 20 homers and stolen 23 bases, the youngest Mariner to perform that since A-Rod. As the one rookie elected to the All-Star Recreation, Rodríguez captivated on a nationwide stage through the Dwelling Run Derby, shedding to Juan Soto within the finals however profitable the evening by catapulting himself into the bigger baseball consciousness.
However that was solely the start.
The contract itself is immensely difficult, however let’s dive into it for a second. Reportedly, after the 2028 season, the Mariners want to decide on whether or not to choose up an possibility on Rodríguez, the dimensions and size (eight years or 10 years) of which is dependent upon how he finishes in MVP voting. If the Mariners decline that possibility, Rodríguez can then both 1) decide out of the deal and turn into a free agent, or 2) activate a five-year, $90 million addition that stretches till 2032.
This construction is a lesson in compromise. If Rodríguez lives as much as the prophecy, he shall be compensated as such, the highest-paid participant within the lengthy historical past of the game. If accidents or inconsistency pop up, he has $210 million and 10 years to fall again on.
There’s nearly no situation through which the Mariners would decline the choice and Rodríguez would take a look at the open market. If he is good, he’ll be in Seattle for his total profession, and if he isn’t, he’ll be in Seattle for many of his profession. There’s a number of mumbo-jumbo right here, however the upshot is that Julio ought to really feel very comfy buying a home within the Pacific Northwest.
No Mariners fan is burdened in the present day. No Seattle baseball aficionado must be frightened about the place possession’s cash may go within the yr 2034. Being a fan of a workforce on this foolish league is about two issues: 1) having the chance to care deeply about gamers, and a pair of) watching your workforce win video games. By extending Julio, the Mariners are carrying out each of these issues.
M’s followers have heard this all earlier than. They’ve seen stars rise and fall with no shiny silverware to talk of. Edgar, Griffey Jr., the Massive Unit, Ichiro, King Félix — true icons of the game who spent most of their years in Seattle endearing themselves to the fan base, but by no means pushing the workforce to a World Sequence. Superstardom doesn’t assure October glory; simply ask Seattle’s division-mates down in Anaheim.
To that purpose, Rodríguez remains to be only a piece of the puzzle. The Mariners might want to proceed constructing round him. This isn’t basketball; one man can’t carry a franchise, as a lot as Rodríguez will strive. Nevertheless it’s a lot, a lot simpler to craft a roster when you realize who’s hitting third and taking part in middle discipline till 2036. The unknowns will type themselves out, or they will not, however both means, you’ll swing over to T-Cell Park and have Julio Rodríguez drop your jaw for the subsequent 14 years.
Laborious to complain about that.
Jake Mintz is the louder half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports activities. He’s an Orioles fan residing in New York Metropolis, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s nearly definitely using his bike. You possibly can comply with him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.
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