Tigers sign No. 2 prospect Keith to 6-year contract

Phenom inks deal ahead of MLB debut; contract includes club options for 2030-32

January 30th, 2024

The Tigers made a historic investment in their future on Sunday, signing infield prospect Colt Keith to a long-term contract ahead of his much-anticipated Major League debut.

The contract, announced by the Tigers on Sunday morning, guarantees $28,642,500 over the next six seasons for the player MLB Pipeline ranks as the Tigers’ No. 2 prospect and No. 22 in MLB. It includes a $2 million signing bonus along with club options and escalators for 2030 through 2032 that could make it as much as an $82 million deal over nine years.

Here’s the breakdown of the deal, courtesy of the Tigers:

  • 2024: $2.5 million
  • 2025: $3.5 million
  • 2026: $4 million
  • 2027: $4 million
  • 2028: $5 million
  • 2029: $5 million
  • 2030: $10 million club option or $2,642,500 buyout
  • 2031: $13 million club option or $1 million buyout
  • 2032: $15 million club option or $2 million buyout

It’s the largest contract signed by a Tiger before his big league debut. It’s also the first contract signed by a Tiger before his MLB debut since Major League contracts were ruled out for Draft picks a decade ago. The Tigers had previously signed top picks Justin Verlander, Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello to Major League deals out of the Draft as a way to spread out signing bonuses.

This is a different deal, giving the Tigers cost certainty and Keith financial security ahead of what is hoped to be a lengthy big league career. It’s a sign of the lofty expectations the Tigers have for Keith, a fifth-round pick from the 2020 Draft who perched himself squarely on Detroit’s doorstep last year with a breakout campaign in the Minor Leagues.

“This is a very exciting day for the Detroit Tigers, Colt, his family, and our fans,” Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris said in a press release. “Colt has done everything we’ve asked of him during his young career, improving all facets of his game and asserting himself as one of the sport’s most promising young players. This contract demonstrates our faith in Colt and this organization’s commitment to acquire, develop and retain young talent.”

Keith batted .306 last year with 38 doubles, 27 home runs, 101 RBIs and a .932 OPS between Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie. He hit for the cycle in a 6-for-6, two-homer, seven-RBI performance for Erie on May 16, and took part in the All-Star Futures Game in July.

The Tigers have made no secret that they want to give Keith an opportunity to earn a spot in their Opening Day lineup, bypassing the free-agent infield market to keep second base open. This deal paves the way for Keith to open the season with the Tigers.

“I couldn’t be more excited to reach this agreement, securing my place in this organization for years to come,” Keith said in a statement. “Since being drafted in 2020, all the coaches and staff have been invaluable in helping me and my teammates grow on and off the field. There’s a reason I felt strongly about making a long-term commitment to be here, and being surrounded by incredibly talented teammates and coaches is a big part of that.

"I’d also like to thank my family, fiancé, agent, and friends for their tireless support throughout my life and career. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I know this is a big accomplishment, but ultimately my mission is to be the best player possible and help win a World Series championship for Tigers fans everywhere.”

The deal is also a sign of the Tigers’ approach with their wave of young talent. Harris said repeatedly this offseason that he’s open to long-term deals and extensions with their younger players.