Jan. 31: The Rays have formally announced their extension with Diaz. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Diaz will be paid $6MM in 2023, $8MM in 2024 and $10MM in 2025. There’s a $12MM option for a fourth season, which does not contain a buyout.
Jan. 28: The Rays and infielder Yandy Diaz are close to finalizing a contract extension, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link). The deal is a three-year, $24MM pact that contains a club option for the 2026, according to Feinsand and his MLB.com colleague Juan Toribio (via Twitter). Diaz is represented by ACES.
The extension would cover Diaz’s final two years of arbitration control and at least one of his free agent-eligible seasons. Diaz and the Rays were slated for an arbitration hearing to determine his 2023 salary after not reaching an agreement by the filing deadline — Diaz was looking for $6.3MM and the club countered with $5.5MM.
Instead, it now looks like Diaz will be the third hearing-bound Tampa Bay player to sign an extension this week. Jeffrey Springs signed a four-year, $31MM extension on Wednesday, while Pete Fairbanks agreed to a deal worth $12MM over three guaranteed years on Friday. An arb hearing is usually the result when the two sides don’t agree on a one-year salary prior to the figure-exchange deadline, yet clubs often try to pursue multi-year deals as something of a loophole around the self-imposed “file and trial” strategy deployed by most of the league.
Diaz, Springs, and Fairbanks were three of seven Rays players that didn’t agree to terms by the deadline, and even the remaining group of four (Harold Ramirez, Colin Poche, Ryan Thompson, Jason Adam) still represents an unusually large number of players to be headed for hearings. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rays work out at least one more extension before hearings start taking place in the coming weeks.
For Diaz, the new contract locks in some long-term security and the first major payday for a player who turned 31 last August. Beginning his career in his native Cuba, Diaz was twice arrested before finally defecting on his third attempt, and then signed with Cleveland for a $300K bonus. Diaz didn’t make his MLB debut until 2017, when he was already 25 years old.
Back in December 2018, a headline-grabbing three-team trade between the Rays, Indians, and Mariners saw Diaz head from Cleveland to Tampa as part of the five-player swap. The Rays had interest in Diaz’s ability to make contact and draw walks, and those skills have certainly translated as Diaz’s career has progressed. Since the start of the 2020 season, Diaz ranks sixth among all qualified hitters in walk rate (13.7%) and ninth in strikeout rate (13.1%).
Diaz hit .266/.359/.418 over his first three seasons with the Rays, good for a solid 117 wRC+ over 1026 plate appearances. However, Diaz took the production up a level last season, posting a 146 wRC+ while hitting .296/.401/.423 with nine home runs over 558 PA, and finishing with elite percentiles in several major Statcast categories. For a right-handed batter, Diaz’s career numbers against left-handed pitchers had been relatively modest heading into 2022, but last year he crushed southpaws to the tune of an .892 OPS over 145 PA.
One flaw in Diaz’s performance was a lack of glovework, as public defensive metrics have indicated that he has been well below average over 1282 1/3 innings as a third baseman over the last two seasons. This stands out even more on a defense-conscious club like Tampa Bay, though the Rays might ideally look to use Diaz more often as a first baseman in 2023 or over the course of the longer-term deal.
In the big picture, locking up Diaz seems like a shrewd move for Tampa. While a 146 wRC+ is a high-water mark for Diaz, there wasn’t much (apart from a spike in hard-hit ball rate) to suggest that his 2022 numbers were a departure from his prior career numbers, so it’s reasonable for the Rays to expect roughly similar production going forward over the life of Diaz’s deal.
Perhaps the most intriguing element is that the Rays have now extended a 31-year-old player, as it is fairly common for the team to shop players as they get increasingly expensive. There hadn’t been any real trade buzz surrounding Diaz, however, and thus the Rays have now locked up three members of their infield (Diaz, Wander Franco, and Brandon Lowe) though possibly the 2026 season, depending on the status of club options for Diaz and Lowe. Of course, the Rays could still end up shopping Diaz, Lowe, or conceivably even Franco down the road, especially if the club continues to generate quality infield prospects from its minor league pipeline.
Between the yet-unknown specifics of Diaz’s contract numbers and the unresolved arbitration cases, the Rays are likely to match or exceed their previous franchise high for payroll, even if their overall spending is still quite modest by league-wide standards. Tampa Bay’s Opening Day payroll last season was approximately $83.86MM, and Roster Resource currently (without a Diaz extension involved) projects the Rays for around $76.86MM on the books in 2023.
10-years, $10 million.
Hey it’s so great to see the Rays signing their guys now, hopefully they won’t be trading them later on though. Nobody wants to see a competitive AL East more then me. It’s great for baseball.
You have your wish, Captain99. I still believe it’s possible all five teams in the AL East play .500 or above as they’ll play each other less this year. I’m not as low on the Red Sox as many of their fans.
@LordD99- yeah maybe I should be more careful what I wish for? Seeing 3 teams in the AL East making the playoffs would be pretty cool. And I do like the idea of all 5 teams playing .500 or above. Maybe by the trading deadline we’ll end up with Ian Happ for leftfield if the Cubs fall out of contention. We’ll see. Expecting Hicksy and Donny on the OD roster now. But not expecting Hicksy to be a Yankee past the trading deadline or past mid August. We’ll see, what happens.
Agreed. They’re going to patch LF to start the season and hopefully trade for an upgrade at the deadline. They’ve done that elite twice so far and both failed. Gallo was bad and Benentendi somehow broke the hamate bone he had removed in college! Third time’s the charm?
You actually think Happ is that much of an upgrade?
Yes, Happ is a huge upgrade over Hicks.
Actually, any player would be for the simple fact that Hicks gave up on his team during a game last season. But, this aside, Happ is still much better than Hicks, imho.
No doubt Happ is a upgrade on Hicks.
Yankees have a solid team, rotation is disgusting, curious to see how the pen does. Donaldson should have a bounce back year, Lemahieu also. Be a very interesting al east this year as usual. But I don’t see a clear cut favorite
Why do you think Donaldson will bounce back? He’s 37 years old and couldn’t catch up to fastballs last year.
I’m also not sold the rotation is the best because they’re not always healthy. When healthy, they are dominant but that rarely happens.
2024 headlines write themselves
“Rays look to unload Yandy Diaz for prospects due to financial constraints”
GOAT Closer Esteban Yan
I’m loving it. While it would’ve been nice to sign a lefty bat, but extending Franco, Springs, Glasnow, Fairbanks, and now potentially Diaz gives them a nice core to work with for years to come. Feels like a new way of doing things for the Rays.
And for those of you saying “they’re just going to flip them,” maybe that’s true, but they are still spending money today, which is new. The old Rays would’ve just horded the new streaming money coming in, so they deserve props for distributing it to create clubhouse loyalty.
Doubtful until possibly the 2025 season.
Motor City Beach Bum
I’m surprised they didn’t trade him. Salary is going up and he has decent value. Then again they haven’t really been active this offseason other than signing their own players
Well if you get a guy on a relatively cheap extension, it doesn’t really reduce his trade value no?
The Rays have built up so much organizational depth that this is what makes sense to do.
They don’t need anymore of the prospects a guy like Yandy would command.
While this is true, Motor City, Yandy is likely the best pure hitter on their team, so the decision to extend him instead of trade him makes a lot of sense to me.
Indeed Mr. Clipper.
Pound for pound..Yandy..is their best pure hitter and very under-rated.
Just gotta teach him not to hit it on the ground and he’s be elite. That being said maybe he gets more value with the shift and bases change.
Sid Bream Speed Demon
The word Elite gets thrown around way too much.
I might hazard to call the eigth best hitter by wRC+ in the world’s top league elite.
But then I’m crazy like that.
He’s not showing up in the top 10 on any BRef tables.
BREF uses OPS+. Fangraphs uses wRC+. He’s only the 11th top hitter by BREF, though.
Actually, B-Ref shows him #5, tied with Soto, in OBP and #6 in At-Bats per Strikeout.
Yandy Diaz is ranked 13th in OPS+ by BREF for 2022. Stop making stuff up…
Are you familiar with Occam’s razor? What’s more likely? I read a column wrong or I went out of my way to misrepresent a guy by two whole positions?
Do you think the gap between 11th and 13th is so huge I had to intentionally lie?
God this place is full of miserable people sometimes.
Sid Bream Speed Demon
How’s his defense?
Hard to play defense when your arms are howitzers. He is elite with the bat, poor at defense. Which makes a solid everyday player.
So he’s already elite?
I’m speaking just from his batter ball profile. He’s hitting balls as hard as judge just straight into the ground though.
With you on this. 13% walk 13% strike out roughly rate- what you get is how well does someone actually hit the ball
If you watched him play you’d think he’d be hitting 40 home runs a year. Still very talented.
Nice to see Tampa keeping this core around for a while.
rays being super smart. locking up their guys pre FA for decent prices and not on crazy long term deals. plus saving on legal fees by not going to Arb lol
Like McNeil, he’s 31, hadn’t made much money to date, and wouldn’t have been free-agent eligible until he was 33. Skills can erode quickly. Lock in the money.
From the Rays side, they lock in price certainty and he’s still easily tradeable.
This is a steal when compared to what the Red Sox gave Yoshida.
Are you from the future?
I don’t get the comparison. These two players have nothing to do with each other.
They’re both defensively limited players with below average power whose best skill is on-base percentage.
I thought for sure they would trade him. This is a (nice) surprise. Rays are extending guys, which is great…but still need to add some LH offense!
deGrom Texas Ranger
Thr Franco one made no sense at such a young age when they had 6 full years of cheap control over him. This one does, though.
Franco is still relatively cheap until 2027
When your small market you often have to hedge your bets when they present themselves with younger prospects. As a Brewers fan I love when I read the Peralta/Ashby type extensions. I understand that Franco’s was for far more but these are the risks that small markets take to circumvent their inability to be competitive for the most prized free agents.
It made a ton of sense to give the Rays an identity with an extremely talented franchise player. Can’t compare apples to oranges deals.
He’s worth more than 8 mil a year but good for him for locking up some security. Sometimes that’s more valuable
deGrom Texas Ranger
2 of those are arb years, but yes on the free agent year
He gets on base Wash.
He was whiskey-bent and hearing-bound.
Are you paying attention Pittsburgh? Just because you have control over a player doesn’t me you cheap out. Pay Renolds what he is worth!
If the Pirates extend Reynolds today, they will be paying him based on his value as a centerfielder today. In two years, he won’t be playing center, and they will have the first underwater contract of their current rebuild. Handing out long term extensions for sentimental reasons is the fastest way to undermine a rebuilding effort. The Rays don’t do it, and that’s why they stay competitive. For a team like the Pirates, value is all that matters. A long-term extension for Reynolds would not produce surplus value at this point in time.
When is their rebuild over? When the moons and stars align?
Reynolds is going to be looking for a much larger deal than what Yandy got…
It’s the committed money in 2024 that is shocking. Seems like it would commit the Rays to a record payroll. The other thing that is shocking is the age of the players and the pitchers’ injury history. This is so out of character for the Rays.
Glasnow will be traded before then.
Not if the Rays are in the hunt for the WS.
If you are gonna have a Wander, ya gotta have a Yandy. A Xander or similar would have been nice since Osdrubal is gone.
Rays will have a 1B/3B, 2B/RF, SS, CF?COF, 3 SP, and a high leverage RP all under long term contracts.
That infield is looking to be pretty crowded in a year. Paredes, Aranda, Walls, Brujan have to find spots. And soon Mead and Manzardo.
Rays have to trade somebody. Why not Yandy?
Nah. Rays don’t sign guys just to trade them at first opportunity. Yandy will be a Ray for at least the next 2 years. Mead is probably headed to LF at this point. No room in the infield for him. Plus, his arm strength is less than ideal for 3B. Rays have a great core of starters at every infield position and excellent depth beyond those guys, but you’re right, they probably need to trade one of Walls, Brujan or Aranda at this point. Too many infielders.
Or is it Laurel Diaz?
Not a bad move by the Rays. Problem is, though, the Rays need power and Yandy doesn’t really help them there.
Healthy years from Franco and Lowe will help a good deal in the power department.
Also this says they will be more inclined to bring a couple of their lefty bats in minors. Some good looking talent that play both corner infield and outfield. Lock up cost at top level and bring in future for the $ behind some of these 3 year contracts.
Given the ascending structure of his paydays, I’m guessing this means he’ll be traded either at the mid-season deadline or in the next offseason.
Diaz reminds me of a younger Y Gurriel
Marc Topkin’s article about the extension states “The Rays may work out a multiyear deal with [Jason] Adam.”