SEATTLE — Julio Rodríguez is going to be the face of the Mariners for a long, long time.
The club is finalizing a long-term deal with the star rookie worth $210 million guaranteed and the possibility of maxing out as the longest and largest in MLB history at $470 million, according to a source. The club has not confirmed the deal, which could be worth eight, 13, 16 or 18 years, based on player and team options.
The value of the club option will break down as follows:
At first glance, it looks like a win-win for both sides: The Mariners lock up an emerging cornerstone at potentially below market value in the longer term, and Rodríguez locks up a guaranteed $210 million, which would be tied for the 24th-richest deal in baseball history, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, with the chance to earn even more.
It’s easily the largest guaranteed deal under Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, who’s been with the club since October 2015, blowing past the previous high of $115 million for Robbie Ray last offseason.
The philosophy and creativity of the deal aligns with Dipoto’s front office, especially for a pre-arbitration player. Rodríguez, who is in line to earn a full year of service time this year, wouldn’t have been eligible for free agency until after the 2027 season.
That’s what makes Friday’s news fascinating, albeit perhaps not shocking.
Rodríguez had arguably become the face of the franchise before he even made his debut on Opening Day in April, based on his skill set as one of the top power hitters in the Minors and billing as MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 overall prospect. But more so, Rodríguez resonated with Mariners fans for his charisma and flair, and the face of the future for a team that took a significant step back after the 2018 season. Rodríguez has long been a player that fans — and the franchise — have dreamed of since he signed as an international free agent in 2017 at age 16.
Now, he’s gone mainstream well beyond prospect circles and the Pacific Northwest, having taken the baseball world on a global stage by storm mere months into his big league career. And he’s only 21 years old.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez was the first to report that a deal was in the works, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first with the structure and value of the deal.