Rays and infielder Yandy Diaz They are close to finalizing a contract extension, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link). According to Feinsand and Juan Toribio of MLB.com, the deal is a three-year, $24MM contract with a club option for 2026.via Twitter). Diaz is represented by Octagon Agency.

The extension covers Diaz’s final two years of arbitration control and at least one of his free agent-eligible seasons. Diaz and the Rays were set for an arbitration hearing to determine his 2023 salary without reaching an agreement at the filing deadline — Diaz was seeking $6.3MM and the club was paid $5.5MM.

Instead, Diaz now appears to be the third hearing Tampa Bay player to sign an extension this week. Jeffrey Springs Signed Four-year, $31 million extension On Wednesday, while Pete Fairbanks Agreed on a deal 12mm worth over three years of warranty on Friday. An arbitration hearing is usually the result if the two sides fail to reach a one-year salary agreement before the payment deadline, but clubs often try to pursue multi-year deals around the initiative as a problem with the “file and try” strategy deployed by most leagues.

Diaz, Springs, and Fairbanks were three of seven Rays players who didn’t agree to a deal at the deadline, and even the rest of the team of four ( ).Harold Ramirez, Colin Kiss, Ryan Thompson, Jason Adam) still represents players who go to trial in unusual circumstances. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rays perform at least one more time before trials begin in the coming weeks.

Diaz’s new contract comes with some long-term security and a first major payday locked in for the player who turned 31 last August. Diaz, who started his career in his native Cuba, was arrested twice before finally getting busted on his third try and signed with Cleveland for a $300,000 bonus. Diaz didn’t make his MLB debut until 2017, when he was just 25 years old.

Back in December 2018, Three-way marketing topic Between the Rays, Indians and Mariners, Diaz saw his way from Cleveland to Tampa as part of a five-player swap. The Rays were interested in Diaz’s ability to make contact and draw walks, and those skills certainly translated as Diaz’s career progressed. Since the start of the 2020 season, Diaz ranks sixth among all qualified hitters in walk rate (13.7%) and ninth in strikeout rate (13.1%).

Diaz hit .266/.359/.418 in his first three seasons with the Rays, for a solid 117 wRC+ over 1026 plate appearances. However, Diaz stepped up his production last season, posting a 146 wRC+, hitting .296/.401/.423 with nine home runs over 558 PA and finishing in several major percentiles. Statistics Categories. For a right-handed hitter, Diaz’s career numbers against left-handed pitching have been relatively modest through 2022, but he crushed the southpaw last year with an .892 OPS over 145 PA.

One flaw in Diaz’s performance was a lack of glove work, as public defensive metrics indicated he was below average in 1,282 1/3 innings as a third baseman over the past two seasons. This is even more pronounced on a defensively-oriented club like Tampa Bay, although the Rays would like to use Diaz as a first baseman more often than not through 2023 or a long-term deal.

In the bigger picture, locking up Diaz seems like a smart move for Tampa. While a 146 wRC+ is a high-water mark for Diaz, there wasn’t much to suggest his 2022 numbers were a departure from his previous career numbers (other than an increase in hard-hit ball rate). The Rays expect roughly the same production over the life of Diaz’s deal.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that the Rays have now extended the 31-year-old, because the team is accustomed to buying players at high prices. However, there was no real trade around Diaz, and so the Rays have now locked up three members of their outfield (Diaz, Wandering FrancoAnd Brandon Lowe) though possibly the 2026 season, depending on the status of Diaz and Lowe’s club options. Of course, the Rays could still end up acquiring Diaz, Lowe, or Franco down the road, especially if the club continues to produce quality outfield prospects from its minor league pipeline.

Between Diaz’s yet-to-be-disclosed contract numbers and unresolved arbitration issues, the Rays could match or exceed the former franchise’s highest payroll, though their total spending is still modest by league-wide standards. Tampa Bay’s opening day payroll was $83.86 million last season, and Directory resource Currently (without the Diaz extension), that puts the Rays on the books at around $76.86MM in 2023.

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