By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports activities MLB Author
Julio Ceaselessly, 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 would preserve 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 would mild up even the gloomiest Seattle sky. He’s the reality, the grand supreme and a face of the game. He is the kind of baseballer you give a clean test 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. People across the Mariners have joked that they cannot even consider he is an actual particular person. Mountains of expertise and he is a pleasant dude? Not possible! Too good to be true!
However he’s actual. And, now, the long run is much more so.
For the Mariners, there’s undoubtedly 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 raffle that what we have seen is a harbinger of what is to come back. But it surely’s a leap of religion value taking. The choice is simply too dangerous, too unpalatable to even take into account.
Simply ask the Washington Nationals.
The Nats did not severely have interaction Soto in extension talks till it was too late. Soto went from a promising rookie to among the finest younger hitters we would ever seen within the blink of a watch. His worth appropriately skyrocketed, and that generational Dominican celebrity outfielder flew above and past Washington’s most popular value vary. Juan Soto is now on the Padres.
It is easy: When a possible “Forever Player” exhibits up in your doorstep, you let him in, and you do not let him depart.
Even Fernando Tatis Jr., subluxated shoulder, motorbike 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 value instantly with a third-place MVP end. His legacy, his recognition and his repute have undeniably taken an enormous hit after current occasions, however Tatis continues to be a baller. Even with all that is gone horrifically incorrect for Tatis and the Padres in 2022, come 2023 and past, he is nonetheless more likely to play at or close to an elite stage. And he’ll be doing it in San Diego.
So which staff would you fairly be? The staff that pulled the set off on an extension and has needed to sift by way of a mountain of stress and disappointment this season, however nonetheless has a comparatively shiny future? Or the staff that has to look at its beloved celebrity — the participant followers thought would in the future have a curly W emblem embossed in bronze without end in upstate New York — gallivant in another person’s laundry?
In different phrases: It’s higher to have provided a large extension and misplaced than by no means to have gotten settlement on an extension in any respect.
In all methods potential, Rodríguez’s debut marketing campaign has been a roaring success, the inevitable coronation of a prime prospect destined for superstardom. By way of 108 video games, he has a slash line of .269/.328/.471, good for a 132 OPS+ (32 p.c 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 Sport, Rodríguez captivated on a nationwide stage throughout the Residence Run Derby, dropping to Juan Soto within the finals however successful the night time 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 relies on how he finishes in MVP voting. If the Mariners decline that possibility, Rodríguez can then both 1) choose 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 will probably 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 just about no situation through which the Mariners would decline the choice and Rodríguez would check the open market. If he is good, he’ll be in Seattle for his whole 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 pressured as we speak. No Seattle baseball aficionado ought to be apprehensive about the place possession’s cash may go within the 12 months 2034. Being a fan of a staff on this foolish league is about two issues: 1) having the chance to care deeply about gamers, and a couple of) watching your staff win video games. By extending Julio, the Mariners are undertaking 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 Large 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 staff to a World Sequence. Superstardom doesn’t assure October glory; simply ask Seattle’s division-mates down in Anaheim.
To that purpose, Rodríguez continues 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 attempt. But it surely’s a lot, a lot simpler to craft a roster when who’s hitting third and taking part in heart area till 2036. The unknowns will kind themselves out, or they will not, however both approach, you’ll swing over to T-Cell Park and have Julio Rodríguez drop your jaw for the subsequent 14 years.
Exhausting 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 virtually definitely driving his bike. You’ll be able to comply with him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.
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