Your starting shortstop for the foreseeable future, Wander Franco.

Seventy games into his big-league career, the Tampa Bay Rays and shortstop Wander Franco have agreed to a precedent-setting 11-year, $182-million contract extension that will keep him in a Rays’ uni for the foreseeable future. The contract comes with a $25-million club option for an additional season as well as a series of $3-million escalators based on MVP voting that brings the contract to a maximum value of up to $223-million over 12 years.

The extension is both a franchise record for Tampa Bay — topping Evan Longoria’s previous $100-million guarantee — and a record for any player with less than one season of Major League service time.

Franco, 20, ranked as the consensus No. 1 prospect in each of the previous three offseasons and slashed .288 BA/.347 OBP/.463 SLG/.810 OPS with 30 extra-base hits (seven homers, 18 doubles, and five triples), and a pair of stolen bases, and a 3.5 WAR (according to Baseball-Reference) across 308 plate appearances. From July 25 to September 29, Franco set about a historical spate of play, reaching base in 43 consecutive games, surpassing Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Al Kaline, and Mick Mantle, and tying Frank Robinson. Over that stretch, Franco posted a combined .329 BA/.398 OBP/.545 SLG/.943 OPS batting line with more walks (9.1%) than strikeouts (8.1%).

The shortstop received split marks for his defensive work in 2021, posting a six DRS and an average 0.1 UZR, but a -3 mark in Statcast’s Outs Above Average (OAA). Be that as it may, he is projected to be at least an average shortstop. That, in addition to his offensive profile, not to mention power and plus speed, aligns with the .331 BA/.399 OBP./535 SLG/.934 slash line he posted through 215 minor league games.

Any instances of Tampa Bay spending money brings about the typical comments wondering how long until the player on the receiving end of the deal is traded. In all fairness, those comments are justified due to the Rays’ history of trading away players — such as Longoria, Blake Snell, and Chris Archer — in the waning stages of their extensions. Yet, that’s unlikely to happen to Franco anytime soon.

Over the short term, the Franco extension will have only a minimal impact on the club’s payroll. The extension likely won’t push Tampa Bay’s payroll $80-million; Franco may receive an up-front signing bonus, although his salaries through the first six seasons will likely be considerably lighter.

At the end of the day, Franco will receive a generational amount of money and retain the ability to reach free agency in his early 30’s, while the Rays secure control of a franchise cornerstone whom they hope, and believe, can be an all-time great. The contract extension contains positives for all parties involved.

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