The earliest MLB contract extensions

Five players have signed deals before big league debut

August 26th, 2022

Below are notable examples of players who agreed to extensions at very early points in their careers, in order of how much service time they had accrued when they inked those deals:

Luis Robert, White Sox -- January 2020 (Zero days of service time)

Chicago ensured that Robert, along with Eloy Jiménez and several other members of the club's young core, remained on the South Side for years to come when it inked the outfielder to a six-year, $50 million extension (with two additional option years) just after New Year's Day. And like Jiménez, Robert simply tore up Minor League pitching, hitting .328 with 32 homers and 36 steals as he climbed three levels of Chicago's farm system in 2019. Robert debuted in 2020 with 11 home runs, a Gold Glove Award in center field and a runner-up finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Evan White, Mariners -- November 2019 (Zero days of service time)

The 23-year-old first baseman secured his future with the Mariners with a deal spanning at least six years. The contract guaranteed White $24 million and included three additional club option years that could take the value to as high as $55.5 million. White, who ranked No. 58 among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects and No. 4 among Mariners prospects at the time of his deal, became just the fourth player in MLB history to sign a long-term contract before reaching the Majors. He won a Gold Glove Award at first base as a rookie in 2020.

Eloy Jiménez, White Sox -- March 2019 (Zero days of service time)

Jiménez had yet to appear in a big league game at the time of his deal, but that didn't stop the White Sox from giving him a big-time contract. In March 2019, eight days before its season opener, Chicago signed Jiménez to a six-year, $43 million deal that included a pair of club options. The contract made Jiménez, MLB Pipeline's No. 3 overall prospect at the time, just the third player to sign an extension before his MLB debut. It was also the largest contract by total value given to a player in his position. Jiménez grew into his power after a slow start, finishing his rookie year with 31 homers and a .513 slugging percentage. He placed fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

Scott Kingery, Phillies -- March 2018 (Zero days of service time)

Kingery earned the 2017 Paul Owens Award as the Phillies' top Minor League position player after hitting .304/.359/.530 with 26 home runs and 29 stolen bases across the Double- and Triple-A levels. That made the second baseman the only player in the Majors or Minors to record a 25-25 season in '17, and Kingery continued that roll into Spring Training 2018, batting nearly .400 and slugging over .700. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler envisioned the 23-year-old carrying a utility role with his club, and Kingery's hot spring proved too enticing to deny the youngster a roster spot -- and too enticing to not lock him down long-term. The result was a six-year, $24 million deal that also included three club options.

Jon Singleton, Astros -- June 2014 (Zero days of service time)

The Astros were still rebuilding when they inked Singleton to a five-year, $10 million contract and brought him up to the big league roster. The deal made Singleton the first player in history to sign an extension before his MLB debut. The first baseman was the Astros' third-ranked prospect at the time, behind future star Carlos Correa and right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft.

Singleton's deal reflected the Astros' mindset at the time in terms of signing club-friendly deals with their youngsters. In 2013, Houston signed future AL MVP Jose Altuve to a four-year, $17 million contract that turned out to be one of the game's biggest bargains. Singleton struggled (.620 OPS over 362 plate appearances) in his first callup, however, and played only 114 games in two seasons with the Astros.

Matt Moore, Rays -- December 2011 (17 days of service time)

Moore's extension -- a $14 million deal over five seasons -- was a first for a pitcher, but the Rays saw enough in Moore's first 19 Major League innings to make sure he stuck around in Tampa. Those 19 innings included 10 in the American League Division Series against Texas, when Moore held the Rangers offense to just one run across two outings.

The deal was huge for Moore, who had signed for just $115,000 as an eighth-round Draft choice in 2007. Tampa Bay benefited from the extension, too, getting a quality southpaw starter who went 39-28 with a 3.88 ERA -- albeit with some injuries along the way -- before the Rays traded Moore to the Giants at the 2016 Deadline.

Evan Longoria, Rays -- April 2008 (24 days of service time)

The Rays transformed from expansion also-rans to AL contenders at this time, and Longoria's incredibly team-friendly contract was a major milestone on that journey. Longoria's six-year, $17.5 million deal certainly seemed a little riskier at the time, given that he had appeared in just six big league games when he signed. But the Rays' timing could hardly have been any better -- Longoria captured the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year Award and led the Rays to their first pennant while hitting 27 homers with 85 RBIs, developing into a perennial All-Star and face of the franchise at third base. Longoria eventually got another six-year, $100 million extension in 2012.

Salvador Perez, Royals -- February 2012 (50 days of service time)

Kansas City's front office was already impressed with Perez's stellar defense behind the plate to sign the 21-year-old to a $7 million deal over five years. But Perez proved to be adept with his bat, too, bringing both average and power to go along with his Gold Glove defense. The catcher's incredible durability and personality endeared him to Kansas City fans, and it's safe to say the Royals got more than their money's worth when they originally signed one of baseball's best backstops. Perez's second contract with Kansas City was much larger: a five-year, $52.5 million deal signed in March 2016.

Brandon Lowe, Rays -- March 2019 (58 days of service time)

The Rays saw both offensive and defensive upside in Lowe when they signed him to a six-year, $24 million extension in Spring Training 2019. Lowe quickly made the Rays' front office look smart, with an .862 OPS and 16 homers in 76 games before a bone bruise in his right leg knocked him out of action in July. His half-season performance was still enough to make him an All-Star and place him third in Rookie of the Year voting, and Lowe followed that with back-to-back top-10 MVP finishes in 2020 and '21.

Michael Harris II, Braves -- August 2022 (81 days of service time)

The Braves moved to lock up Harris, as well as third baseman Austin Riley, in the same month, creating some certainty for the future with contract extensions for the pair of young stars after extending first baseman Matt Olson during Spring Training. Harris skipped Triple-A altogether after slashing .305/.372/.506 for Double-A Mississippi, and he made an immediate impact for the Braves -- in his first eight MLB games, he hit .300 with three doubles. From June 13-19, he launched his first three big-league home runs. On the day he signed his eight-year, $72 million extension, Harris was hitting .287/.325/.500 with 12 homers and 13 steals in 71 games for Atlanta.

Wander Franco, Rays -- November 2021 (104 days of service time)

The Rays didn't waste time moving to lock up their 20-year-old phenom long-term. After the No. 1 prospect in baseball debuted in 2021 with a historic 43-game on-base streak and third-place Rookie of the Year finish, Franco and Tampa Bay agreed on an 11-year, $182 million contract extension that could turn into 12 years and up to $223 million. Franco's extension is the largest in Rays franchise history as well as the largest ever signed by a player with less than a year of service time.

Tim Anderson, White Sox -- March 2017 (115 days of service time)

Anderson's six-year, $25 million deal was a record at the time for the largest extension signed by a player with less than one season of big league service time. Anderson had put up a respectable .738 OPS over his first 99 games with the White Sox in 2016. But the shortstop struggled to immediately live up to his new contract in '17, hitting .257 and striking out in more than a quarter of his plate appearances, but turned things around in a big way two years later, capturing the AL batting crown with a .335 average.

Paul DeJong, Cardinals -- March 2018 (124 days of service time)

Cody Bellinger's 39-homer season partly overshadowed DeJong, who placed runner-up in the NL Rookie of the Year vote after slugging .532 and smacking 25 home runs while providing great defense at shortstop, too. But the Cardinals certainly did notice, inking DeJong to a six-year, $26 million extension in Spring Training that just topped Anderson's record deal. A year later in 2019, DeJong would hit 30 home runs and make his first career All-Star team.

Julio Rodríguez, Mariners -- August 2022 (141 days of service time)

Rodríguez became an instant sensation even before making his MLB debut on April 8, 2022 -- during Spring Training, he was tremendous in all facets of the game, leading the Mariners to name him to the Opening Day roster. That was just the beginning, as J-Rod became the fastest AL player to reach 20 homers and 20 steals in his big-league career. He also was named an All-Star and put on a show in the Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium, further cementing his place among the most popular players in the sport. So it was no surprise when news broke that the Mariners are finalizing a contract extension with their burgeoning star that is worth a guaranteed 13 years and $210 million. The deal includes a club option that could make the deal worth up to $470 million.

Chris Archer, Rays -- April 2014 (156 days of service time)

Archer's six-year, $25.5 million extension re-established the Rays as baseball's most aggressive club in locking up its talented youngsters, after the deals given to Longoria, Moore and James Shields. A fifth-round Draft choice of the Indians in 2006, Archer's path to the Majors was anything but direct. The righty struggled in Minor League ball and was involved in trades to both the Cubs (for Mark DeRosa in 2008) and then the Rays (for Matt Garza in 2011). Archer found his footing when he rejoined the Rays in June 2013, finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year vote after going 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts.

Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves -- April 2019 (165 days of service time)

Acuña's eight-year, $100 million extension (which included a $17 million option and $10 million buyout for both the 2027 and '28 seasons) represented the largest given to a player with his level of service time, but it's looking like a bargain for the Braves. Acuña is already one of baseball's biggest superstars. He made a serious run at the '19 NL MVP Award, knocking 41 homers and coming just three steals shy of recording the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history.

Ryan Braun, Brewers -- May 2008 (1 year, 8 days of service time)

Braun exploded onto the scene in 2007, crushing 34 home runs and slugging a league-best .634 to just edge Troy Tulowitzki for NL Rookie of the Year honors. That was enough to convince the Brewers to give Braun a huge eight-year, $45 million extension, which at the time marked the biggest contract in franchise history. Braun's deal was the standard for an extension given to a player with under two seasons of service time for a number of years. The left fielder went on to claim five straight Silver Slugger Awards along with the NL MVP in 2011.

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies -- January 2008 (1 year, 33 days of service time)

Tulo's six-year, $31 million extension took some of the sting off the Rockies' World Series defeat to the Red Sox months before. Rockies fans were certainly glad to see Tulowitzki remain in Colorado, as the shortstop posted three top-10 finishes in MVP voting and a pair of Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards over the next four seasons. Tulowitzki signed a much bigger extension -- seven years, $134 million -- after the 2010 season before the Rockies eventually dealt him to the Blue Jays at the 2015 Trade Deadline.

Anthony Rizzo, Cubs -- May 2013 (1 year, 40 days of service time)

Rizzo was a highly touted prospect with the Red Sox, but he did not immediately deliver on that hype after he was dealt to the Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade in 2010. Rizzo found his footing with the Cubs in '12 (.805 OPS and 15 home runs over 87 games), and a hot start to the following season convinced Chicago to make him a face of the franchise with a seven-year, $41 million extension.

"To take a little bit of a discount now, but it's security for now [too]," Rizzo said at a news conference for the deal, "and a huge weight off my shoulders, my family's shoulders, my kids' shoulders, my grandkids' shoulders. It's a good feeling."

As it turns out, the good feelings were only beginning for Rizzo and the Cubs. The first baseman became a Chicago icon and perennial NL MVP candidate, leading the moribund Cubs from the NL cellar to their first World Series championship in 108 years in 2016.

Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs -- March 2013 (1 year, 59 days of service time)

After a successful taste of the big leagues in 2011, Goldschmidt grabbed Arizona's first-base job for good by hitting 20 home runs and recording an .850 OPS over 145 games in 2012. That was enough for the D-backs to reward Goldschmidt with a five-year extension worth $32 million, and the best was yet to come. Goldschmidt took home a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger Award and a second-place finish in the NL MVP vote in '13 after leading the NL with 36 homers, 125 RBIs and a .952 OPS. He remained a face of the D-backs franchise and a perennial MVP frontrunner until he was traded to the Cardinals in December 2018, before the final year of the deal.

Christian Yelich, Marlins -- March 2015 (1 year, 69 days of service time)

The 23-year-old Yelich was seen as a superstar in the making, and the Marlins invested in his future with a seven-year, $49.5 million extension in 2015. Yelich's power was still blossoming at the time, but he grew into a 20-homer player while retaining his excellent average and eye at the plate. His extension would likely have continued to be a bargain for the Marlins down the road, but the franchise traded Yelich to the Brewers in January 2018 as part of their rebuilding effort. He went on to win the NL MVP that year, and finished as runner-up in '19.

Ozzie Albies, Braves -- April 2019 (1 year, 77 days of service time)

Albies joined his teammate Acuña in ensuring his financial security when he inked a seven-year, $35 million extension that included options for the 2026 and '27 seasons. Like Acuña's deal, Albies' extension is already a big bargain for the Braves. Albies was already an All-Star in 2018, and he finished the first year of his extension with an NL-high 189 hits, 24 homers and a 114 OPS+, helping Atlanta capture its second straight NL East title. Two years later, he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger as the Braves won the 2021 World Series.

Andrelton Simmons, Braves -- February 2014 (1 year, 125 days of service time)

Simmons' glove at shortstop was already renowned leaguewide when he signed a seven-year, $58 million extension that remains a record for any player with less than two years of service time. Simmons remained inked under that extension once he was traded to the Angels, and it proved to be even more team-friendly for Los Angeles once he matured into a better all-around hitter.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants -- April 2012 (1 year, 127 days of service time)

Bumgarner was already on his way toward becoming one of the league's preeminent aces, having won two postseason games as a 20-year-old for the World Series champion Giants in 2010 and recording a 3.21 ERA over 204 2/3 innings in 2011, his first full season in the rotation. The southpaw only got better after signing a five-year, $35 million extension, leading San Francisco to two more titles and compiling arguably the most heroic pitching performance in postseason history in 2014. Bumgarner ranked as one of baseball's biggest bargains through the length of this extension, remarkably ranking as the Giants' lowest-paid starter during the '16 season.