The Rays announced at a press conference on Monday that they’ve signed center fielder Kevin Kiermaier to a six-year extension that would pay the defensive star a guaranteed $53.5MM. Kiermaier is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
The deal would begin with the 2017 season, meaning it would replace the $2.975MM salary to which Kiermaier agreed when avoiding arbitration as a Super Two player earlier this offseason. The center fielder receives a $1MM signing bonus, a $3MM salary in 2017 and then salaries of $5.5MM in 2018, $8MM in 2019, $10MM in 2020, $11.5MM in 2021, and $12MM in 2022. The Rays have a $13MM club option (with a $2.5MM buyout) on Kiermaier for 2023, though that figure can rise due to performance escalators. With the option and the escalators, he deal would max out at $66.15MM.
The contract, then, buys out all four of Kiermaier’s potential arbitration years in addition to a pair of would-be free agent campaigns. The six-year guaranteed term runs through his age-32 season, while the option year would cover his age-33 season. By taking the deal, Kiermaier is effectively trading in his chance at a massive free-agent deal, though he’s doing so in exchange for a significant up-front guarantee that tops recent comparables in his service class.
Kiermaier, who will turn 27 in April, is regarded as one of the best, if not the best defensive player in all of Major League Baseball, regardless of position. Over the past two seasons, his 44 Defensive Runs Saved are the highest among any Major League player, and he’s also pacing all of baseball with an Ultimate Zone Rating of +42.3 runs. Unsurprisingly, he won a Gold Glove in each of those two years.
In addition to his superlative glovework, Kiermaier has produced at a slightly above-average clip at the plate. He’s reached double-digit home run and stolen base totals in each of the past twos years, topping out at 12 long balls and 21 steals in 2016. Overall, in 1314 plate appearances since making his big league debut, the former 31st-round pick has turned in a .258/.313/.425 batting line that checks in at five percent better than the league-average hitter, per context neutral stats like OPS+ and wRC+.
Kiermaier had come up as a mostly speculative trade candidate at various points in the offseason, but the news of a long-term deal all but eliminates the possibility that he’ll be moved at any time in the near future. While the team’s corner outfield scenario is far less clear — Colby Rasmus, Steven Souza, Corey Dickerson and Nick Franklin all figure to be in the mix — Kiermaier now joins franchise icon Evan Longoria and ace Chris Archer as a cornerstone for years to come. Outside of that talented trio, the Rays don’t have a single player on a guaranteed contract beyond the 2018 campaign, so even with this new deal and a perennially modest payroll, the Rays will be able to supplement the roster with additional pieces to whatever extent ownership allows.
Taking a step back, the extension for Kiermaier proved to be considerably more costly for the Rays than recent extensions for center fielders with two-plus years of big league service. Ender Inciarte, who was also a Super Two player, inked a five-year deal worth $30.525MM this offseason, while Odubel Herrera inked a virtually identical five-year, $30.5MM deal with the Phillies. (Herrera, unlike Inciarte and Kiermaier, was not a Super Two player.) Of course, while Inciarte is a very strong defender himself and Herrera has been a superior bat to this point in his career, neither of those players has matched Kiermaier’s defensive accolades.
To that end, Kiermaier’s deal serves to further exemplify the premium that’s being placed on defense on a league-wide basis. It was five years ago that Cameron Maybin, then considered a premium defender in center field, signed for half this amount, while a more established offensive center fielder, Andrew McCutchen, inked an exceptionally similar pact to the one Kiermaier will land.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times was first to report the deal was close, and also reported many of its specifics. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported that a deal was in place, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale was first to report the amount of the guarantee.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Kinda sets the market for Jackie Bradley Jr now….
That’s not true at all. Completely different players.
I dunno. In college JBJ was known as a bat + superb glove, but now? Glove is still the best, or at least most dependable part of his game. Wild swinger, little patience, not to mention little to 0 chance he signs any extension at market value (whatever that would be) with Boras.
How is that? Both great gloves and average bats…..
Major League average for CF wRC+ 96, .259 BA , .732 OPS, .149 ISO.
Bradley: wRC+ 118, .267 BA, .835 OPS and .219 ISO.
That is an above average bat.
JBJ is a significantly better hitter. Over the last 2 seasons JBJ has a .834 OPS while Kiermaier has a .728. Also, JBJ is significantly better than average at hitting, regardless of position. The other thing is that Kiermaier is a significantly better defender. The difference between the two is that JBJ gets about half his value from D and half from offence while Kiermaier is completely defence and baserunning. JBJ will get paid more as he has much more marketable, generally, longer lasting talents.
While I believe JBJ is better, there are park effects at work here as well. Significantly easier to hit in Boston than Tampa.
I’m pretty sure he’s talking about JBJ’s career in which he has shown to have a Below average bat actually
Career BA of just .237, wRC+ of 93 and OPS of .725
Steamer and Zips project a huge drop off for him this season compared to last. fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=12984&posi…
I think it’s pretty accurate
Look more towards inciarte.
Good for you KK, get yours!
Good for the Rays and KK.
All I know is I wish he played for my team…..
I’m with you. He’s the one guy I really wanted to see the Cardinals attempt to acquire this off-season. Glad to see Tampa lock him up, though.
You still may have a shot at him. move makes him more attractive now for trading. If Rays struggle could be gone at deadline
Not a chance
Fantastic news. Longoria, Archer, and KK are good face of the franchise guys to have locked in for the new stadium’s final push.
Oh, so the owner of the Devil Rays is going to fully fund the stadium himself? That’s great news!
The Trop isn’t a good stadium, but Tampa/St. Petersburg really doesn’t do a good job of showing up to games either. I think a place like Charlotte would do well because of all the Braves fans located in the Carolinas. Geographically, Atlanta is the only team in the entire southeast excluding the Florida teams. Would be nice to have another team in the southeast.
Ain’t happening. Despite a lot of attendance talk, the ratings are good and that TV market is lucrative. I4 corridor is big. All the stuff in ESPN and TB Times is mostly propaganda for the interests of MLB and the Rays ownership.
That’s because the stadium is in the middle of a swamp, I mean Florida, same thing. They probably shouldn’t use gators as security either.
Wow, great stuff! Don’t quit your day job.
S. FL can barely support one MLB team, let alone two. Brandon is right about the tv $, so it’d be an uphill climb. I’d love to see one of those teams relocate to Montreal. Tampa has less of a track record and Luria duped the tax payers into paying for his stadium, so I think Tampa makes more sense…but Luria is more likely to sell. Too bad it wasn’t the other way around.
I hear you. Sports franchises fleecing cities is too common. The financial crisis likely killed their initial stadium push at Al Lang. Also likely that current ownership was complicit in the tactics that caused the crash in their prior jobs.
Just goes to show how valuable that defense is in baseball today. He is an average offensive OF, but he is the very best defensive OF. Great signing for the Rays in my opinion.
It seems like too much for the rays. They rarely drop this much money so when they do it shouldn’t have been for someone who is all defense. Dont get me wrong KK is good but the rays should have spent it on someone else
KK has averaged 5-6 WAR/500 PA and is set to sign a long term deal with an AAV <$10 million. This is exactly the type of player the Rays should have spent money on. This contract will provide huge amounts of surplus value and I can't imagine anybody not seeing this as a win for the Rays.
His war is that high because of his defense which is the whole point. His offensive numbers are very pedestrian. For the rays who never spend is 50 + million really worth defense?
He has actually put up OWAR’s of 1.8, 2.7, and 2.8 over the last 3 years… The first and third year’s were with only around 400 plate appearances. I’m assuming baserunning probably has a little to do with those numbers, but he’s not as mediocre on offense as you try to make him seem IMO.
Yes it is because if it comes down to it, they can trade him and someone will pay quite a bit to acquire him unless he breaks both legs and gets a hemorrhage in his head.
A Win is a Win no matter how you get the Win. He’s one of the best CF in baseball whether you can see how he gets the value or not.
Is it because defense isn’t sexy?
Dookie Howser, MD
Chicks dig the long ball.
Keith Lockhart's glove
It also reminds us that not all of the elite players were early draft picks or highly ranked prospects.
Eh. I wouldn’t really state it like that. It shows how valuable defense is when you still are a solid offensive player. It’s not like he’s a glove-only guy. Even if he was only a slightly above average defender, he’d still have some value based on his bat and base running.
Thoughts and prayers.
Kiermaier is basically getting what the Pirates pay Marte and Polanco combined.
And according to baseball-reference, he was worth only 1 less WAR last year than the 2 of them combined while playing in only 105 games.
So, you’d rather have KK than Marte and Polanco? K.
Exactly. Some people need to seriously get off the WAR stat. Polanco/marte are both better players then kk
they are both better players huh? That’s a stupid take- seeing as how polanco has been a roughly equal offensive player and a far less valuable defensive player.
Marte is better but kiermaiers easily better than polanco
A single roster spot, however, with a high WAR player, is far more valuable than two roster spots.
Marte has been better offensively, but Kiermaier is no slouch. KK has a higher BB%, lower K% and higher ISO than Marte. The big difference between them offensively is that Marte has a .359 BaBIP compared to Kiermaier’s .297 BaBIP. Considering that KK probably has just as much speed and an improving batted ball profile, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that BaBIP gap shrink and their overall offensive games becoming much closer. With Kiermaier’s superior glove, I’m not so sure that Marte is clearly better.
Look at their stats. I dont seen anything that indicates kk is a better player. It just depends on what you value. For some reason people here value defense more then other fourms. I guess thats the way it is
If your response is to KK v. Marte, then ignore this, but if you are responding in general to your claim that “Polanco/marte are both better players then kk” –
If you can’t see any indicator for why KK is better than Gregory Polanco then you need to look at how you evaluate baseball players because whatever you are doing is wrong.
Here are their stats for the last 2 years (if you move it to 3 years, KK is even better)
If you look, you can see that their wRC+ is identical at 100, which is exactly league average. Their wOBAs are also almost the same (315/317), but KK has been a better baserunner and a significantly more valuable defender than Polanco. This isn’t people valuing defense more than other forums, this is you being blind to the difference in these two players or choosing to ignore it.
If you have pretty much equal production at the plate, I’m not sure how you can legitimately try to argue that the guy who is a much much worse defender and worse baserunner is a better player. There is just absolutely no room to argue that here. It’s not a matter of people valuing something more than other places (whatever that argument is supposed to mean), there is just no way to make a valid factual argument that Polanco is a better player than KK.
Im talking about marte but if you look at the original comment all the way up there ^ someone said kk was almost as good as marte/polanco combined which is the main thing i was trying to say was wrong. I dont think you can combine 2 players war to judge them thats a strange method. Im not sure how much polancos contract is but im pretty sure kk doesent make more then both of them combined which sparked a debate
Oh, well if that’s what you meant, you worded it incorrectly.
“Polanco/marte are both better players then kk” would mean that you think each player is better than KK. If you meant that polanco + marte = a better player than KK, then I wouldn’t disagree with that, but that’s not what I took from what you said.
And I mean, it’s pretty easy to say that one player is better than 2. Take polanco + marte or KK, Mike Trout is a better player than any combo of those two. He provides more value on his own than them combined and only takes up 1 spot in the field, lineup, and on the 25/40 man roster.
I’ll agree that it’s weird, because it’s rarely a valid argument, but I’m not sure it’s weird for the simple fact of making the argument.
Where did I say I’d rather have KK than Marie and Polanco? Just pointing out facts…
But, if you must know, I would rather have KK that Polanco at this point for sure. Would I rather have him than both? Maybe. Probably not though. Depends on who my other LF and RF options are.
Maybe people value defense because it’s important, especially from a center fielder…
I think you are the one (well, one of the few) that needs to look at the original comment all the way up there.
“And according to baseball-reference, he was worth only 1 less WAR last year than the 2 of them combined while playing in only 105 games.”
I’m still trying to figure out where I said:
A) I’d rather have KK than Marte and Polanco.
B) KK was almost as good as Marte/Polanco combined.
If you want to replace “good” with “valuable,” then it’s a hell of a lot closer to what I actually said… The only people I see that are assuming WAR is the be all end all are you and forwhomjoshbelltolls with comments like the two above.
Kevin K is a beast. Ya some people treat WAR as their bible and ought not to (we all know what religion is doing to this world) but to say polanco and marte are both better…. sorry sir KK is arguably the best CF in MLB right now.
He not arguably the best. He’s arguably the second best.
He’s not arguably the best. He is arguably the second best though
best defensive, maybe? Cuz yeah, overall, no one is beating Mr Trout.
“For some reason people here value defense more then other fourms.”
Like MLB professionals?
Where are you getting this information from? Polanco’s contract is 7/$58mm and Marte’s is 5/$47.5mm. How is 6/$50-52mm double those above? All 3 of them will have AAVs in the $8.25-$9.25mm range.
Where are you getting this information from? Must be including the options.
Marte 6 years/$31 million.
Polanco 5 years/$35 million
I was going off memory, the Pirates initial offer to Polanco was $27 million.
Still $66 million for them vs. $52 million for KK…I’d gladly take the former.
Polanco and Marte both also signed their deals with only one-plus year of service time. Kiermaier was already arbitration eligible and had agreed to a near-$3MM salary for the 2017 season.
With all of these young center fielders getting locked up, I wonder if the Blue Jays are going to extend Kevin Pillar. Very similar player to KK.
They have a template now and deeper pockets.
They aren’t close at all. While Pillar is a very good CF he is an absolute minus at the plate.
lets hope not. i like pillar and all, and am a loyal bluebird fan but till he learns to not swing at pitches over his head….
rave reviews for the defense
Good signing by the Rays, there’s no where to go but up after losing nearly 100 games in 2016. They will need 31 year old Longoria to continue his 2016 resurgence, and occasional ace Archer must bounce back from a disappointing year if the Rays have any hope at a .500 season.
Kiermaier has been a 5.5 WAR player while providing a league average bat. He’s just now entering his prime so even if his bat becomes 10-15 percent better than average he’ll be one of the most valuable guys in the league
$50M. Dang, that’s a lot of money.
In 2017? It really isn’t. That’s less money than the Padres are paying Hector Olivera and james Shields to play for other teams.
Well, technically Olivera’s not playing anywhere. 🙂
Hector Olivera plays baseball?
He is a fan of “MLB THE SHOW”.
You might feel differently if it was your $50M.
Yeah, it’s not though. I’m a fan of baseball and could really care less how much the players make. The owners are doing quite well.
Well, I think they’re all overpaid. As for the owners? Duh, business owners are in it to be profitable. It’s their business, and they provide opportunities for employment. The worn out argument you put forward is why salaries have exploded…….along with the cost of going to games.
But what you’re not taking into account is the costs that are passed on to consumers through things like cable tv, satellite tv, advertising, and everyday products we purchase. Sports drive up the cost of many things, and we absorb the brunt of it.
lol who is more important to baseball: the players or the septuagenarians franchisees?
You don’t have to purchase a single thing to enjoy baseball. Maybe a 20$/month internet connection. As far as ticket prices, MLB is, by far, the cheapest average ticket price of the four major sports. Want to save money going to a game? Go on a Tuesday night. Eat dinner before so you don’t pay 7 bucks for a hotdog. Enjoy the game. Avoid the jerseys and programs and all the stuff that really doesn’t matter to enjoy a game.
also, keep in mind that ticket prices are just basic economics – supply and demand and elasticity. Much of the money from ticket sales stays in the stadium because putting on a baseball game is an expensive endeavor. If all the players made a dollar teams would still charge as much for tickets as the market would bear.
As far as the whole players being overpaid /owners deserve every penny argument, well, I doubt anybody ever went to a baseball game to watch an owner. The players receive around half the revenue generated by MLB and that seems reasonable to me.
Uh, without teams, who would they play for?
It’s all business. Not to say all owners don’t have a baseball mind, but you’re right, at the end of the day they are running a business. If they think it’s worth it to spend X amount on a player, be it to put butts in the seats or help the team win, they will spend it. It’s an investment. One hand scratches the other, the players are provided a place to play and earn millions of dollars, the owner profits from having a franchise that people are willing to pay money to see in person and watch on TV. Everybody wins, no point in trying to figure out which side benefits more.
If it was my $50m I would be ecstatic at the efficiency.
Other teams, duh. The billionaires could disappear from the business tomorrow and a new league would immediately start to form to address demand.
Yes, $50 million is a lot of money to me and probably you. However, for a baseball player of Kevin Kiermaier’s ability, it really isn’t. When you consider that 1 WAR costs about $8 million, this extension pays him for about 7 WAR. He should pass that amount sometime in the first half of next season.
indeed. makes the average fan wonder how screwed we are getting by MLB and price gouging. personally I am back on the radio and cancelled my at bat subscription. this is getting stupid.
Not when you compare it to what the Cubs shelled out for Heyward. Great glove, bad bat, less than half the cost. Great deal for the Rays, at least comparatively.
Glad to see that the two Kevin’s will continue to entertain everyone in center here in the AL East.
It’s a good idea that Kevin got back with the rays because some crappy teams could have wanted him for a lot of money and he might say yes and then wanna say no after
This is a smart deal for both sides. He’s locked in guaranteed payments that make him a wealthy man, regardless of a potential injury that might impact his greatest skill. This type of a contract for this type of an offensive player would have been ridiculous even just a few years ago. And the Rays locked in a valuable young player who could still be an Adam Eaton-like trading chip down the road.
It may be just me and I want to know what other think but is this to much to soon? I realize he’s the best defender in baseball but has he really shown enough with the bat for this. If he was on the open market right now would he eclipse this? I feel like the Rays are taking a gamble that the bat is going to work out.
It is a gamble but longoria is aging and Kk is quickly becoming one of the faces of this franchise. A crowd favorite and a non stop highlight reel. Yes it is a game but he is young and has improved with the bat and the best defender in baseball that deserves some money too. Gamble yes but from a Rays fans point of view I was praying they would sign him long term because he makes everyone around him better and saves a lot of runs by himself.
Look how much Heyward got as a FA and how much Chris Carter got. That basically tells you how teams value players right now.
Dookie Howser, MD
I wonder if MLBTR’s arbitration calculator can work out multiple years in the future?
The AAV on this is about $9mil. That includes 4 arbitration years and 2 FA years. For the sake of argument, lets assume that those two FA years will be valued at this past year’s QO of $17.1 mil. That puts the AAV of the 4 arbitration years under this deal at $4.85 million (this couild vary slightly based on the option and what kind of buyout is involved). He was already scheduled to make $3million this year, which would rise over the next 3 years. Overall, I think it make good financial sense for everybody. The Rays probably got a bit of a discount by guaranteeing those years, and KK gets financial stability early on his career as well as still puts him line for a solid FA payday if he keeps it up.
If he was a free agent, I think he would easily eclipse this amount.
Going into his free agent season last year, Jason Heyward’s previous 3 seasons had an average of 13 HR, 15 SB, 113 OPS+ and .141 ISO. He was 26 years old and the best defensive RF. He received an 8/$184 million contract with 2 opt outs, which comes out to a $23mm AAV.
Kiermaier’s last 3 seasons have an average of 11 HR, 15 SB, 105 OPS+ and .167 ISO. He is 27 years old and the best defensive player. The contract he just signed is reported to be 6/$53.5 million which comes out to an AAV under $9 million. Now obviously he wasn’t a free agent and just entering his first of 4 arbitration seasons, but there is no way he doesn’t dwarf this contract if he was on the open market. I haven’t seen the break down yet, but I’d guess his free agent seasons were bought out for somewhere in the vicinity of $13 million per season. That means his arb seasons were bought out for somewhere around $6.5-$7 million per season. Looks like a great signing for the Rays.
Set for life. Fort Wayne can’t be any prouder.
Good for Aguilar! He was never given a fair shot by the Tribe.
Wouldnt adding up their war devalue player A if player B isnt as good?
Mookie Betts had a better WAR than Mike Trout, Daniel Nava, and Ji-Man Choi COMBINED!
First of all I want to declare war on WAR. Giving this player 6 years and 50 million is crazy especially for the Rays who need to be more prudent with their spending. KK is not exactly a 300 BA guy. KK has little or no power. I would compare him to Abraham Almonte and I am only slightly joking. Kevin Pillar is a closer comparison. Jarrod Dyson is another name that comes to mind. It is the 6 years that make no sense.
I want to declare war on WAR blah blah blah batting average. AND….ignore.
If you want to bad mouth a stat, you should at least bring up something relevant for your argument. What are you going to say next? He doesn’t have enough RBI’s to justify the contract?
Well Brooks Robinson rode an elite glove and career 104 wRC plus to the Hall of Fame. Kiermaier has an elite glove and 105 career wRC plus and you don’t think he is starting material and worth a moderate free agent contract.
The game has left you behind.
Always nice to see a Hoosier cashing out
So is that 53 mil for his defense and 30-35mil for his bat? Talk about a team friendly huge home town discount deal
New stadium? Who would agree to that when they don’t even get 3k a game now.