PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Kiermaier could be with the Rays for at least another six years. According to an industry source, the Rays and Kiermaier's representatives are working on a new deal with the Gold Glove center fielder that could be worth more than $50 million. The club has
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Kiermaier could be with the Rays for at least another six years. According to an industry source, the Rays and Kiermaier's representatives are working on a new deal with the Gold Glove center fielder that could be worth more than $50 million. The club has not confirmed the deal.
Kiermaier didn't have a lot to say Wednesday about the new contract. Then again, his smile spoke volumes.
• Kiermaier's contract rewards elite defensive skills
"I'm very thankful right now," Kiermaier said.
Kiermaier was scheduled to make $2.975 million this season after settling with the club before going to arbitration as a Super Two player. The deal would begin this year and would circumvent Kiermaier's remaining arbitration years. He would have become a free agent after the 2020 season.
"Until I go sign that thing, I'm not going to get too in depth," Kiermaier said. "But I feel very blessed and thankful to be rewarded for how I've handled myself since I really set baseball as a goal for myself, which [started when he was in] junior college when a Tampa Bay scout saw me. And I said this could happen.
"Ever since then, that's when I started setting expectations for myself. So very rewarding, humbling feeling for me. All my hard work has kind of taken shape right now. So I'm very grateful for the Rays to do this for me."
Kiermaier won an American League Gold Glove Award and a Platinum Glove Award in 2015. In '16, he was limited to 105 games due to injuries. Nevertheless, he minted another Gold Glove.
Evan Longoria smiled as he recalled the advice passed on to him his rookie season by veteran Eric Hinske.
"Never turn down your first fortune," Longoria said. "[Kiermaier's] first fortune was a lot bigger than mine, by the way."
Longoria allowed that Hinske's advice proved to be good advice.
"This game is so hard," Longoria said. "This opportunity may never present itself again. Like last year in free agency, a lot of guys had great years and had a hard time finding long-term contracts. So especially a deal like this where you have security for the next six years. That would be hard for me to turn down."
The single-most impactful event of the Rays' season came when Kiermaier broke his hand in a game in Detroit. Before Kiermaier got hurt, the Rays were 20-19. They went 14-35 when he was out, including a 3-22 stretch before the All-Star break.
Kiermaier led the AL in defensive WAR for a second consecutive year (3.0). And, according to FanGraphs, his 25 Defensive Runs Saved led all Major League center fielders and ranked second among all players behind Boston's Mookie Betts (32). Betts who plays right field for the Red Sox and also won a Gold Glove Award, played in 158 games.
Kiermaier came to the Rays as a 31st-round pick out of Parkland College in Illinois in the 2010 Draft and blossomed into one of baseball's premier defenders over his first three seasons with Tampa Bay.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.