The Tampa Bay Rays and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier have agreed to terms on a contract worth a guaranteed $53.5 million over six years, beginning this season. The deal includes a 2023 club option, which along with incentives could raise the maximum value to $66.15 million. Prior to the extension, Kiermaier would have been eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.
The agreement with Kiermaier marks the fourth time that Stuart Sternberg's ownership group has guaranteed at least six years in a contract with a Rays player. Right-handed pitcher Chris Archer signed for a guaranteed six years (plus two club options) on April 2, 2014. Third baseman Evan Longoria signed for six years guaranteed (plus three club options) on April 18, 2008, then on November 26, 2012 extended that deal an additional six years with a club option for 2023.
"Kevin has established himself as one of the most dynamic and exciting players in baseball, and he also sets a tremendous example off the field with his work ethic, dedication and leadership," said Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman. "We're thrilled that he'll be patrolling center field for the Rays for years to come."
Kiermaier, 26, won the AL Gold Glove Award for center field in 2016 for the second consecutive season, joining Longoria (2009, 2010) as the only players to win multiple Gold Glove Awards in franchise history. He also became the second AL outfielder since the awards were first presented in 1957 to claim the Gold Glove in each of his first two full seasons in the Majors, joining Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2001-02.
Last season, Kiermaier led Major League center fielders with 25 Defensive Runs Saved despite missing 48 games due to injury. Defensive Runs Saved attempts to calculate how many runs a player saved or cost his team in the field compared to the average player at his position. His 25 DRS ranked second overall in the Majors (regardless of position), behind Boston's Mookie Betts (32), despite playing 509.1 fewer innings. Over the last two seasons, his 67 DRS lead all Major League fielders by a wide margin, as shortstop Andrelton Simmons and outfielder Starling Marte rank second with 43.
At the plate, Kiermaier established career highs in 2016 in home runs (12), stolen bases (21), walks (40) and on-base percentage (.331). After moving to the No. 2 spot in the batting order to end the season, he hit .278/.350/.434 (55-for-198) in 52 games (50 starts). Included over that stretch was a 13-game hitting streak from August 27-September 9 and the first multi-homer game of his career on September 8 at Yankee Stadium.
Kiermaier was selected by the Rays in the 31st round (941st overall) of the 2010 June Draft out of Parkland College in Champaign, Ill. According to Baseball Reference, only four others from his draft class have won a Gold Glove Award: third baseman Manny Machado, outfielder Christian Yelich, Simmons and right fielder Kole Calhoun.
13 days until Opening Day -- Sunday, April 2 vs. NYY (1:10 p.m.)