The Rays have had “recent discussions” about a contract extension with outfielder Randy Arozarena, FanSided’s Robert Murray tweets. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times adds that Arozarena is one of several players with whom the Rays have inquired regarding a potential long-term deal, but nothing is close on any front. Still, it’s of at least some note that the team is getting a sense of what it’d take to get last year’s breakout star signed to a long-term pact.
Arozarena, 26, was acquired from the Cardinals in the trade that sent top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore to St. Louis. He didn’t end up being promoted to the big leagues until late August, but his impact was nearly immediate. Arozarena homered in his fourth game with the Rays and proceeded to go on an otherworldly tear that catapulted him into the national spotlight during postseason play.
From his Aug. 30 debut through the end of the regular season, Arozarena posted a huge .281/.382/.641 slash with seven home runs through 76 plate appearances. That was impressive enough on its own, but he somehow managed to not only improve upon those numbers in the playoffs — but to do so in dramatic fashion. Through an even larger sample of 91 postseason plate appearances, Arozarena erupted with a Herculean .358/.429/.790 batting line. He launched 10 long balls during that historic stretch and took home ALCS MVP honors in the process.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, Arozarena gave the Rays 167 plate appearances of .324/.409/.724 production with a ridiculous 17 home runs in that time. Obviously, that level of output isn’t sustainable, but producing at that rate — often against high-caliber, high-leverage pitchers in the postseason — speaks to the upside Arozarena possesses.
Of course, there are other elements to consider. That’s an exceptionally small sample, impressive as it may be, and Arozarena has never been nearly that productive in the minor leagues. He’s struggled through a dismal Spring Training, slashing just .237/.256/.289 with a 28 percent strikeout rate that is roughly in line with last year’s strikeout tendencies. He was also briefly detained in Mexico over the winter after allegedly getting into a physical altercation with the father of his former girlfriend during an apparent custody dispute regarding Arozarena’s daughter. Arozarena and his former partner reached an agreement to settle the matter without further legal action being taken, however.
The Rays currently control Arozarena all the way through the 2026 season, and he won’t even be eligible for arbitration until the 2022-23 offseason, depending on whether he secures Super Two status. He’s currently on pace to enter that offseason with two years, 129 days of big league service, which would indeed lead to Super Two eligibility based on recent history.
Currently, Ronald Acuna Jr.’s $100MM contract with the Braves is currently the largest ever guaranteed to a player with under one year of Major League service time, though that contract came after Acuna had racked up 487 big league plate appearances and been named National League Rookie of the Year. More plausible points of comparison, speculatively speaking, could be the White Sox’ contract extensions with Eloy Jimenez (six years, $43MM) and Luis Robert (six years, $50MM). Both of those deals, however, came before either player had taken a single big league plate appearance.