UPDATE, MONDAY NIGHT: Maikel Franco's agent does not seem to know anything about a rumored extension other than the fact that there is not one.
Spoke to Maikel Franco's agent, Ryan Royster, about rumors of extension offer: "There is not an offer on the table at this time." #Phillies— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) March 22, 2016
According to a report out of the Domincan Republic, the Phillies have offered a contract extension to their slugging third baseman, Maikel Franco.
If true, the offer comes as Franco has been tearing up the Grapefruit League this spring, leading all MLB players with seven home runs, and has posted a ridiculous slash line of .325/.372/.850 with a 1.222 OPS heading into Monday's action. And that follows a season in which he hit 14 homers and slashed .280/.343/.497 with a wRC+ of 128 in 335 plate appearances.
The 23-year-old slugger appears primed for a breakout season with the Phillies, and the move would give the Phils some certainty with regard to Franco's arbitration years, which begin after the 2018 season. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2022 season, so a six-year deal would not buy out any of his free agency years.
The six-year, $39 million would have an average annual value of about $6.5 million, far more than the $507,500 he made last year, and it would perhaps go a long way in soothing some hard feelings (if there are any) between Franco's camp and the Phillies. He filed a grievance with the team a few months ago after perceived shady dealings with service time last year, delaying his free agency by a year.
It's also similar to a deal the Tampa Bay Rays signed Evan Longoria to just six games into his Major League career back in 2008, inking him to a six-year, $17.5 million deal that took him through his arbitration years. He later signed a longer extension that bought out his free agency.
Of course, does this deal make sense for Franco? Yes, it would mean more money now, and would give him the comfort of knowing that, if he gets hurt at any point in the next couple of years and cannot play baseball, he would be set for life.
But there is also the possibility that, if Franco performs anywhere close to how he has this spring, he could be in for a huge payday, much like the one Ryan Howard scored after the 2009 season. As Philliedelphia's Tim Kelly noted, Howard landed a three-year, $54 million deal that bought out the final three years of his arbitration.
Of course, Howard had already set the team record for homers in a season, had won a World Series and gotten the Phils to another one. And the Phillies would famously, just one year later, sign him to a five-year, $125 million extension to the end of the $54 million deal had had signed the year before.
Franco would need to have seasons similar to Howard's in order to justify that kind of extension, but it is certainly a possibility.
There are reasons for both sides to do something like this. It remains to be seen how it will all play out.
Asked if he'd consider deal like that w/Phils, Franco said "If it's good to do, we'll do it. I just want to go out there & play baseball."— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 21, 2016