On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays officially announced a six-year, $24-million contract extension for the left-handed hitting infielder/outfielder, Brandon Lowe.
The deal could top out at $49-million in total value if the two options (for 2025 and 2026) sewn into the fabric of the contract are exercised, and all incentives are reached.
We believe Brandon has the potential to make a longstanding impact at the Major League level. He’s shown both an advanced feel for hitting and the ability to drive the ball to all fields, and he’s quickly becoming a versatile defender who can help us in many ways. Brandon’s development, both offensively and defensively, is a testament to his commitment to his craft, and a credit to all of our staff who have scouted, coached and worked with him. With this agreement, we’re excited to cement his place in our young core for years to come.— Erik Neander, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager
Lowe joins Evan Longoria in 2008 (six years, $17.5-million plus three options in the first of two deals), Matt Moore in 2012 (five years, $14-million plus three options), and Chris Archer in 2014 (six years, $25.5-million, plus two options) as the fourth player with less than one year of Major League service time to sign a long-term extension with the Rays.
Lowe, 24, was promoted to the big leagues on August 4 (last season) and appeared in 43 big league games. His career got off to an inauspicious start, with an 0-for-19 skid at the plate, yet Lowe finished the with a .884 OPS over his last 37 games. Overall, he hit .233 BA/.324 OBP/.450 SLG/.774 OPS with 14 extra base hits — six home runs, six doubles, two triples — and two stolen bases (in three attempts).
More importantly though, as Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors) noted, context-neutral metrics like OPS+ (112) and wRC+ (113) felt his bat was 12 to 13 percent better than that of a league-average hitter when adjusting for league and home park.
Lowe’s 25.6% strikeout rate was a bit higher than his previous work at Single-A, Double-A (in 2018), and Triple-A — which could be attributed to becoming acclimated to big league pitching — however, he showed power and drew walks at a 10.8% rate in his first crack against MLB opposition. Either way, Lowe has shown an ability to hit through Tampa Bay’s farm system, hitting 22 home runs across 100 games between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, where he combined for a .297 BA/.391 OBP/.558 SLG/.949 OPS overall line.
Lowe is widely regarded as one of Tampa Bay’s most promising prospects — Baseball America rated him as baseball’s number 93 prospect this offseason, while Fangraphs ranked him 46th overall.
Adams also noted that Lowe has spent the bulk of his career as a second baseman, though he got his feet wet with more than 500 innings of work in the outfield corners last season (between the Majors and minors). Scouting reports have generally projected him as a potentially average defender at second, though he’s considered to be more of a bat-first player.
There’s definitely something to be said to know what’s going to be there for the six years but it’s also, as much of a security blanket it is, that to me it is something, it’s a goal to out-perform. You see that and now I want to do better than this contract. I want to perform better so maybe they realize they got something good from it as well.— Brandon Lowe