TODAY: Tampa Bay has announced the deal. It could top out at $49MM in total value if both options are exercised and all incentives are reached, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported.
YESTERDAY: The Rays have agreed to a six-year, $24MM contract extension with infielder/outfielder Brandon Lowe, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The contract contains a pair of club options that would buy out a pair of would-be free-agent seasons as well. Lowe is a client of the Bledsoe Agency.
Lowe has just 43 games of Major League experience under his belt but is widely regarded as one of the Rays’ most promising prospects. Baseball America rated him as the game’s No. 93 prospect this offseason, while Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs ranked him 46th overall.
The early returns on Lowe in the Major Leagues were relatively promising. The 2015 third-rounder reached the Majors for the first time at the age of 23 and batted .233/.324/.450 with six home runs, six doubles, a pair of triples and two stolen bases (in three attempts). Context-neutral metrics like OPS+ (112) and wRC+ (113) felt his bat was 12 to 13 percent better than that of a league-average hitter when adjusting for league and home park.
Lowe’s 25.6 strikeout rate was likely a bit higher than the Rays would prefer, but he showed power and drew walks at a 10.8 percent clip in his first crack at MLB opposition. That production came on the heels of a sensational .297/.391/.558 slash between Double-A and Triple-A, creating further optimism that Lowe can be an integral part of the Rays moving forward.
Defensively, Lowe has spent the bulk of his career as a second baseman, though he got his feet wet with more than 500 innings of work in the outfield corners last season (between the Majors and minors). Scouting reports have generally projected him as a potentially average defender at second, though he’s considered to be more of a bat-first player.
It’s unusual but not unheard of for teams to lock up players with such minimal MLB experience, and the Rays in particular have done so in past years with both Evan Longoria and Matt Moore. Lowe’s deal will line up identically to the Phillies’ six-year, $24MM deal with Scott Kingery — a contract signed before Kingery even played an MLB game.
There’s certainly risk to committing to a player so early in his professional career, but the $24MM risk is one all the more worth taking for a low-payroll club like the Rays that typically has a great deal of difficulty hanging onto quality players as their arbitration earnings increase. For Lowe, he could potentially have earned more over the course of his three arb seasons — and the option years are sure to be at an affordable rate — but the allure of locking in a sizable guaranteed payday when his first arbitration season is still three years away is understandable. If both of the club options on the deal are ultimately exercised, he’ll reach free agency a few months after his 32nd birthday.
Lowe now joins Kevin Kiermaier as the only Rays players to be guaranteed anything beyond the 2020 season. Charlie Morton, set to earn $15MM in both 2019 and 2020, is the only other player whose contract for the 2020 season is guaranteed at the moment. Of course, given the Rays’ wealth of young talent, it’s quite likely that they’ll explore further extension possibilities between now and Opening Day.
Mets should try to sign Alonso to a similar deal.
Extend a promising player early, and hope it pans out where you’re underpaying for his talent. Especially when you’re a team who doesn’t spend much money to begin with.
These early-into-a-career extensions seem to be a death sentence. Based on Kingery the Astros guy (can’t remember his name).
*and the Astros guy
Jon Singleton…household name and astros legend
You’re forgetting Evan Longoria, Salvy Perez, Matt Moore, etc.
The Longoria extension. Not the first contact signed just after call up. The Giants are feeling it now.
The post i was responding to was about “These early-into-a-career extensions.”
Longoria’s later contracts are a different subject.
The Giants are feeling the Rays second contract with Longo
As mentioned, Longoria’s 1st contract in 2008 was probably one of (if not THE) best ever contract for a young player.
Don’t forget Odor. Terrible contract.
didn’t his brother milk a minor league teammate while others held him down, a couple of years back?
Yes. That was indeed odor’s brother
Shouldn’t that say “attempted to milk”? It seems unlikely that he successfully milked a guy. Unless this is a much seedier (no pun intended) type of milking.
I have nipples, can you milk me?
Indians have had great success doing it.
both of those guys got the contracts before playing a game;
Singleton had drug problems; Kingery got put on the MLB roster without a position, and then he lost all semblance of plate discipline and hasnt regained. overall a mistake by the phils, but at least an affordable one.
the busiest day this offseason!
Interesting. Ya, the Kingery deal hasn’t worked, but it might help if they gave the kid a shot without moving him all over the place. Given what they’ve done with Lowe, it looks almost congruent; like Kingery, Lowe really isn’t that strong defensively anywhere.
Singleton? Probably a personal issue; reports on him were pretty strong.
You never know how players will respond to a long term deal; many really don’t work out. But there are certainly exceptions. Longo’s first contract was a steal for the Rays; they just goofed with the second one.
kingery could be a superb defensive salesman; but he swings at everything.
They’re pretty different.
Kingery is a terrific athlete, and while he’s weak at SS, he’s a potentially elite defender at 2B, played CF in college and is considered viable there still. Even if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, he is a viable 4-6 position utility man.
With a poor arm and poor speed, Lowe is limited to 2B and LF (or I guess 1B); his success rides entirely on his bat. It’s a good bat, and I think this is a good deal, but they are pretty different players.
What they do have in common is that they are high-effort, high-character guys, both likely to max out their talent, which is why you make these deals with them. Singleton, not so much….
I’d argue a couple of points:
1. I’m not sure “character” is something you can assess at that age. David Ortiz was a problem child in Minnesota (granted, Tom Kelly was no diplomat) that morphed into “Big Pappi” in Boston. What happened? Who knows.
2. I saw Kingery quite a bit in AAA; I said then, and I’ll say now, there’s a lot of Pedroia in Kingery. There may not be a lot of “quick twitch” in his defense, but his (my term) “in-game skills” are extraordinary. He’s “OK” in CF, maybe even a bit better. But an organization’s goal shouldn’t be to develop “OK” players.
3. I also saw a share of Lowe in AAA. No, there isn’t much defense there at all; I’d agree. Best to hide him at 1B, especially on a pitching-centric team like the Rays.
4. Bottom line: Being a MLBer is hard, very hard. I don’t think you’re optimizing these guys’ potential by moving them around. Besides, the need for “super utility” guys is waning; rosters will be at 26 next year, and likely 27 after the next CBA.
Disagree-Character is a bankable commodity. If you start off in baseball with a humble, kind demeanor you will end you career that way, Tell me a player that turned sour from being a nice, respectfull human being when starting out?. I also believe in (some) Ballplayers growing into better people (Ortiz and maybe Machado some day?) through their careers.
Not quite sure what you are disagreeing with. My point is that 22,23,24 are awfully volatile years to “metrically” define character. You get married maybe, start having kids maybe, people around you start dying maybe, etc; players are advancing through the minors (which they might have found easy) into MLB, where they feel inadequate for the first time in their lives. It’s a rough time even for us minions, and we don’t have millions of dollars and dramatic life-style issues at risk.
Respectfully I disagree with your assertion that young players with an a very amiable personality would change negativly in life and his baseball career. I do concur with you that a complaining, selfish personality can change for the better,,,I don’t believe it metrically changes character when the person is brought up properly with values so easily. I could be wrong but tell me 1 player that changed like that? The Rays know this and Brandon seems to have the personality that is thankful, pliable and amiable. For the Rays Pliable is prominent here.
Kid can rake. Good for him
Oh happy day!
Brandon Lowe can rake and plays all over the field. Another smart move by Rays executives.
Rays have so many good young players, Lowe included. Love his game. Good move by the Rays, now he just needs consistent playing time
This kid makes more than the CY winner. Lol Rays.
this guy reached agreement on a multi-year deal, Snell didnt, so he got renewed; thats how it works.
I am certain that they would sign Snell to this same contract in a heartbeat
Snell won’t sign anything till he’s a free agent Rays tried to sign him already and were turned down. His best friend Chris Archer instructed him not to sign early like he did. Although Archer has not done anything near what Snell has done or doing! Actually if Archer has another bad year, will not be worth the cheap contract he has!
Yeah I was gonna say Archer is lucky he signed that deal lol
Honestly, if the Rays think/know they won’t be able to sign Snell, they will move him for a healthy package of prospects.
You don’t think the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres (with their new found money) wouldn’t part with some of that farm system to get him, among other teams (Houston has V-lander, Cole only signed for this season).
This sure does smell like Jeff Sullivan
Perhaps this was masterminded by Jeff Sullivan, perhaps not. What we do know is that we can now consider it a possibility, if anything.