He only played half a season, and already got nearly $200 million in guaranteed money.
However, the Rays were savvy enough to see that they stand to save millions of dollars by locking in their star this early in his career.
Who will be the next prospect to ink a similar deal?
Here are three candidates.
3. Ian Anderson
The Atlanta Braves love what they have seen from right-hander Ian Anderson so far in his MLB tenure.
The 23-year-old has pitched in two seasons, 2020 and 2021, but his innings total so far (160.2 frames) equals about one full season.
He has a 3.25 ERA in those 160.2 frames, with 3.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and 165 strikeouts, more than one per inning.
Additionally, he was huge in the 2021 postseason, one that resulted in a World Series title for the Braves.
He had a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings during the Braves’ October run.
For Atlanta, locking him up to a long-term deal should be one of their priorities.
They do have some leverage, because Anderson is controllable for the next five seasons at reasonable prices.
In fact, the next two seasons, he will earn around the league minimum.
However, he will start to get expensive in arbitration if he keeps this up, and that’s why Atlanta should explore a six or seven-year deal that covers him all the way through arbitration and one or two free agency years.
2. Jarred Kelenic
Jarred Kelenic didn’t have a particularly good debut season in 2021.
He struggled to the tune of a .181/.265/.350 line and a 73 wRC+.
The 73 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus) means he was 27 percent worse than the average hitter this season.
However, prospect development is not linear, and Kelenic took about five months between the minors and the majors before finally showing signs of life in September.
That month, he hit .248/.331/.524 with an .854 OPS and a 135 wRC+, which means he was 35 percent better than his peers.
If he plays like he did in September, the Mariners will likely look to sign him to a huge extension.
For example, if Kelenic signs an extension, he will probably get some long-term security, but sacrifice some potential earnings down the road.
It is an idea that is already in the Mariners’ mind, and they would probably be better off signing him before he takes off in 2022.
The #Mariners offered Jarred Kelenic a 6 year extension, but Kelenic turned it down.
— MLB News Network (@newsnetworkmlb) February 21, 2021
1. Bobby Witt Jr.
Bobby Witt Jr. is the reigning Minor League Player of the Year in 2021, and the future face of the Kansas City Royals.
Without having played a single MLB inning, he could sign a multi-million extension: he is that good.
He is 21 years old, and put up a 145 wRC+ in Double-A and a 142 mark in Triple-A this year.
Between the two levels, he hit 33 home runs and had 29 stolen bases.
He showed he is ready to be a successful major leaguer, and the Royals should call him up at some point in the first half.
In fact, there is a good chance he makes the team out of camp.
Once he stars in the bigs, his price will immediately increase.
If the Royals keep Bobby Witt Jr. down for 2 weeks they buy themselves another YEAR of service time.
But should they make him upset by doing that? Would he be upset?
I really think they should bring him up now and sign him to like a 10 year extension lol, but I am just a fan
— MovieSpace 🛰 (@MovieGamingTV) March 17, 2021
The Royals, if they play their cards right, should be able to arrange an extension that keeps him in Kansas City for the better part of the next decade.