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Wander Franco hopes to be a Tampa Bay Ray for life

Franco signed an 11-year, $182M deal with the Rays
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Posted at 3:30 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 18:22:26-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays finalized an 11-year, $182 million deal guaranteed with a club option through the 2033 season.

“It’s a great day for our organization, for our staff, for Wander…really for baseball,” Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said during on Monday news conference. “It’s a chance for a homegrown star to be with the club for the foreseeable future.”

The deal is for a lot of years and a lot of zeros on the paycheck for a 20-year-old shortstop.

“I’m going to continue to help those people in need, my family,” Franco said through an interpreter. “If I have to buy something that is a luxury, I think I can do it now.”

This contract is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays’ 24-year history. It’s also the biggest deal in major league history for a player with less than one year of major league service time.

“It’s a large commitment,” Neander said. “There’s a lot of different ways this could go. If not now, for Wander, when?”

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Franco made his big league debut on June 22 and hit a three-run homer. He batted .288 with 18 doubles, five triples, seven homers, and 39 RBI in 70 games. He also put together a historic 43-game on-base streak. His numbers were even better in the postseason.

“To know that he is only 20-years-old and he’s only going to get better for many years to come, it should be exciting,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

“You saw glimpses of just how good he can be,” Neander said. “The sky is the limit, the ability to switch hit, the contact, the defensive ability, the feel for the game, the baseball IQ. It’s all there in what could set him up for a historic career.”

A career that Franco hopes is always in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform.

“The Rays have given the support that I need, the development, the people that they have here, I wish to stay here for my whole career,” Franco said.