J-Rod’s blockbuster contract with M’s is fittingly unique

Julio Rodríguez was a few minutes late to his own party due to dealing with the traffic that will likely be a part of his everyday life at home for the next decade.

SEATTLE (AP) — Julio Rodríguez was a few minutes late to his own party, the result of Seattle’s handling of traffic that will likely be a part of his everyday life at home for the next decade — and possibly much longer.

When Rodríguez arrived on Saturday to discuss his massive contract extension, several teammates and coaches who had embraced the 21-year-old in his debut season sat in the back of the room.

“This is not about the contract and how long it runs. I would like to be a Mariner for the rest of my career and play for the Mariners fans,” Rodríguez said. “I would love to be here for the rest of my career, playing with a lot of these guys here and being managed by Scott (Servais), having Ty (France) as my babysitter. I’m really serious. I love being here.”

Rodriguez signed baseball’s 26th contract for $200 million or more on Friday, securing a long-term cornerstone future for the Mariners. It’s a unique and complicated deal that could reach nearly $470 million and belongs to a rising star with the talent and charisma to lure a region desperate to win baseball.

It hadn’t escaped those in attendance that Rodriguez’s deal almost never materialized in Seattle. Just a last-second effort when Rodriguez signed in July 2017 at the age of 16 brought him to Seattle when it looked like the Angels might be his target.

“It feels really cool just driving around town and seeing the jerseys of (No.) 44,” said Rodriguez, who is from the Dominican Republic. “And it really touched my heart, because as I said, I come from a place, Loma de Cabrera, with 20,000 inhabitants, and yesterday there were more people in the stands than in my hometown. So it feels pretty special to me.”

As much as the sides didn’t want Saturday’s event to be contract-focused, it’s a unique deal. Initial talks took place in early July over whether Rodríguez would be interested in a deal that cemented his future in Seattle. The response of its representatives was that it had to be unique considering the player.

What started as a simple deal and has grown over the course of talks was only finalized shortly before Friday night’s official announcement.

“We started with something that looked very simple and ended up with something that looked like hieroglyphs,” said Jerry Dipoto, president of Seattle baseball operations. “But again, the uniqueness of capturing what Julio can achieve in his career and being fair to him for what that might end up being has been a challenge.”

There was no back and forth. It was a collaborative evolution of the deal, meeting Seattle’s needs, Rodríguez’s potential, and creating various points of flexibility.

At its simplest, the deal is a 12-year, $209.3 million contract beginning next season. It could be worth $469.6 million over 17 years if he wins two MVP awards.

The contract includes seven seasons, a five-year player option, an eight-year club option with price tiers and the option to extend the option to ten years.

RELATED: Star rookie Julio Rodriguez signs historic deal to stay with Mariners

If the club option is exercised, the deal would be worth $309.3 million for 12 years. If Rodríguez earns two MVP awards through 2028 or finishes in the top five voting four times, the deal would increase to $469.6 million, including post-season bounty bonuses.

If Seattle declines a one-time team option for 2030-37 — which must be exercised after the 2028 World Series — there is a reciprocal option that could be exercised after the 2029 series, which calls for $168 million by 2030-36. There is also a player option that guarantees $90 million from 2030 to 2034.

“The very first conversation set the tone,” said Rodríguez representative Ulises Cabrera, describing the development of the deal. “If we look at that in the typical lens, it’s not going to work. And so there will probably be points in this conversation where what I’m saying doesn’t make sense. And what you’re saying won’t make sense, either. But we have to be comfortable with that because right now we’re starting something that we don’t have a blueprint for to reference.

The contract also includes a full no-trade clause. Some of the escalators associated with the deal and the MVP vote were suggestions on Rodríguez’s part and bets on his ongoing production upswing.

“There have been many pathways that have helped us take Julio to various stops along the way, and what can we do to see his potential at this[point],” Dipoto said. “And what we did was we focused on a variety of different deals that were done in the league and we stole parts of that and then we created something in that space because we realized that that was no one has ever really done that before.”

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/mlb/mariners/j-rods-blockbuster-contract-with-ms-is-fittingly-unique/281-7119e46d-a387-4229-8e47-2431b73adc31 J-Rod’s blockbuster contract with M’s is fittingly unique

Emma Bowman

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