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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Rodríguez, Mariners agree to deal worth up to $469M

12-year contract starts next season


SEATTLE — Julio Rodríguez and the Seattle Mariners are set on a long-term relationship in the Pacific Northwest, agreeing to a $209.3 million, 12-year contract starting next season that would be worth $469.6 million over 17 years if he wins two MVP awards.

The deal announced Friday for the 21-year-old All-Star outfielder includes seven seasons. a five-year player option, an eight-year club option with award escalators and the possibility the option could extend to 10 years.

If the club option is execised, the deal would be worth $309.3 million for 12 years. If Rodríguez earns two MVP awards by 2028 or finishes among the top five in voting four times, the deal would boost to $469.6 million, including postseason award bonuses.

If Seattle turns down a one-time team option for 2030-37 — which must be exercised after the 2028 World Series — there is a mutual option that could be exercised after the 2029 Series calling for $168 million from 2030-36. There also is a player option that guarantees $90 million from 2030-34.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Seattle president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said in a statement.

“We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

Rodríguez’s contract is baseball’s 26th for $200 million or more. The deal for the All-Star rookie includes a $15.3 million signing bonus payable within 60 days and salaries of $4 million next year, $10 million and $18 million annually from 2025-29. He gets a full no-trade provision.

Seattle’s option calls for $25 million annual salaries from 2030-37. Rodríguez has a player option that could be exercised after the 2029 World Series, a provision calling for $18 million annually from 2030-34. There is a mutual option that could add $168 million from 2030-36.

His salary as a rookie is the $700,000 minimum.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4 1/2, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said Friday. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

Rodríguez has become a star in his first season with the Mariners. He blossomed from starting spring training as the possible opening day starter in center field to an All-Star in his first season.

Rodríguez is hitting .267 with 20 home runs, 64 RBI, 23 stolen bases and an OPS of .793. When he homered on Wednesday, Rodríguez became the fastest player in American League history to reach the mark of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, surpassing Mike Trout.

Rodríguez is the leading candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year and has helped Seattle be in playoff position entering the final stretch of the regular season with a chance to end the longest postseason drought in major pro spots

“I was fortunate enough, I worked for the Angels a little bit when Mike Trout was coming on board there and Mike’s the greatest player in the last decade without a doubt,” Servais said.

“Julio has got a lot ahead of him, but they’re similar. Personalities are much different but on the field they’re very similar talents They’re five-tool players. They can run, throw. They have power. … I’m just looking forward to having him as part of the organization for a long, long time.”

If Rodríguez wins two or more MVP awards and finishes among the top five in MVP voting in four years, the salaries for the club option years would increase to $35 million and the option would extend to cover the 2038 and 2039 seasons. For one MVP award along with one additional top five finish or three top five finishes, the option salaries would increase to $35 million without the 2038 and ’39 seasons triggered.

For four top 10 MVP finishes, the option prices would increase to $32.5 million and the for two top 10 finishes, the option price would go up to $30 million.

If the club option is declined, the deal includes a mutual option that could be exercised after the 2029 World Series and call for $24 million annually from 2030-36.

If both the team option and mutual option are turned down, Rodríguez has a player option that could be exercised after the 2029 World Series, a provision calling for $18 million annually from 2030-34.

The player option salaries would escalate to $25 million annually for one MVP award and two All-Star selections or elections, $22 million for 10 combined All-Star elections or selections and Silver Slugger wins, and $20 million for eight combined All-Star elections or selections and Silver Slugger wins.

Rodríguez has yearly award bonuses of $150,000 for MVP, $100,000 for World Series MVP, $50,000 each for League Championship Series MVP, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, $50,000 for All-Star election and $25,000 for All-Star selection.

Rodríguez already was a burgeoning star with his performance in the first half of the season, but broke out on a national stage during the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Rodríguez reached the final where he lost to Juan Soto, but had a memorable first two rounds where he hit 63 total home runs and beat Corey Seager and Pete Alonso.

On top of his pure talent, Rodríguez’s demeanor and charisma on the field have only added to what’s could be a special season for the Mariners. His smile and joy for the game has been reminiscent of a past center fielder for the Mariners and some of the same characteristics Ken Griffey Jr. showed early in his career.

Rodríguez was part of some controversial comments made by former Mariners team president Kevin Mather that came to light in early 2021. Mather’s comments were made to the Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club in February 2021 and included disparaging comments about the English of Rodriguez and former Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. Mather resigned within days of his comments becoming public.

Servais praised Rodríguez’s English on Friday as part of handling the attention that’s come his way at age 21.

“I’ve said this often, his ability to command the English language at such an early age has really helped,” Servais said. “It’s not easy. If any of you have gone to a foreign country and tried to pick up the language there, it’s really challenging. For him to do that at such an early age, it’s really helped him. It’s helped him on the field. It’s helped him off the field and in relationship building and everything else.”