The Rays and high infield prospect Curtis Mead have had some discussions relating to a doable contract extension this spring, reviews Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). There’s no indication a deal is probably going or imminent, although the talks add an fascinating storyline to Tampa Bay camp.
Mead, 22, has nonetheless but to make his main league debut. Initially signed by the Phillies as a global newbie from Australia, he was dealt to Tampa Bay over the 2019-20 offseason for left-hander Cristopher Sánchez. Mead hadn’t even reached full-season ball on the time, however he’s appeared a robust discover for the Rays’ scouting division. The 2020 minor league season was scrapped as a result of pandemic, however Mead has mashed since returning to recreation motion in 2021.
The precise-handed hitter mixed for a .321/.378/.533 line throughout a trio of minor league ranges that season, topping out at Double-A. He break up the ’22 marketing campaign between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, placing collectively a .298/.390/.532 mark with 27 doubles and 13 dwelling runs in solely 76 video games. The majority of that work got here in Double-A, with Mead solely enjoying in 20 video games on the high minor league degree. That’s largely on account of an elbow harm that value him nearly the entire season’s second half, maybe dashing his possibilities of reaching MLB final yr.
Tampa Bay made the apparent choice so as to add Mead to their 40-man roster this offseason to maintain him out of the Rule 5 draft. He can nonetheless be optioned to the minors for 3 consecutive seasons and appears more likely to begin the 2023 marketing campaign again in Durham. If Mead continues to hit on the degree he has the previous two years, nevertheless, he’d get an enormous league look earlier than lengthy.
Mead heads into this season ranked between twentieth and fortieth on high prospect lists from Baseball America, ESPN, The Athletic and FanGraphs. Evaluators are effusive of their reward for his bat, although there are a selection of questions on his long-term defensive match. He’s performed primarily second and third base within the minors; nevertheless, there appears to be a good quantity of threat he’ll finally have to maneuver to left area or doubtlessly work primarily as a delegated hitter.
No matter Mead’s defensive final result, the Rays are clearly enamored sufficient together with his bat they’re open to tacking on their window of membership management. Tampa Bay already controls him for at the very least six seasons. Sending him again to the minors early in 2023 — an affordable sufficient choice contemplating Mead’s lack of Triple-A expertise and an infield combine that already consists of the likes of Jonathan Aranda, Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco, Isaac Paredes, Yandy Díaz and Vidal Bruján — would possible delay his path to free company by an extra season. Mead does have the prospect standing to doubtlessly “earn” a full yr of service time even when he’s not within the majors for 172 days as a part of the prospect promotion bundle within the collective bargaining settlement, however he’d want a high two end in Rookie of the 12 months balloting to take action.
There have been a handful of extensions for gamers who hadn’t but made their huge league debuts. Jon Singleton, Scott Kingery, Evan White, Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert have all signed such offers since 2014. Singleton was assured $10MM, whereas White and Kingery every locked in $24MM. Jiménez secured $43MM. Robert holds the file for such offers with a $50MM assure.
Robert and Jiménez had been typically seen as higher-caliber skills on the time of their offers than Mead is now. Jiménez had ranked as Baseball America’s #3 prospect on the time of his contract; Robert was ranked the game’s #2 minor league expertise when he put pen to paper. Kingery (BA’s #31 prospect in 2018) and White (#54 in 2020) match extra into the bucket wherein Mead now finds himself: wonderful prospects however a bit behind the sport’s actually elite minor league skills.
Neither Kingery nor White has met their golf equipment’ expectations to this point. Each groups would certainly like a do-over on these contracts, although even the misses have had a reasonably modest impact on the groups’ books. White is making $3MM this season and can safe $7MM and $8MM, respectively, over the subsequent two years. Kingery is due $9MM this yr, together with a buyout on a 2024 membership possibility.
The Rays don’t spend wherever near Philadelphia’s degree and are even a methods again of Seattle, so a deal for Mead could be a bit extra dangerous than the White or Kingery ones had been. Nonetheless, the potential payoff of locking up a high-end expertise at below-market charges is sufficient for groups to have curiosity in this type of association. Tampa Bay hasn’t reached any extensions with gamers earlier than their MLB debuts, however they’d made out exceptionally nicely on early-career pacts for Evan Longoria and Brandon Lowe earlier than both had reached 50 huge league contests.