What could an extension for D-backs OF Corbin Carroll look like?
The Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly in the extension business with outfielder Corbin Carroll after he showed a lot of promise during his 32-game cup of coffee in MLB last season.
Carroll, 22, is MLB’s No. 2 prospect, and he dusted an injury-marred 2021 by earning the D-backs’ Minor League Player of the Year award in 2022.
“He’s going to be a fixture in our outfield for many years to come,” D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta during Newsmakers Week.
Locking down a young potential star before he reaches arbitration is a strategy by MLB clubs to keep players under contract long-term, many times for under market value.
The Seattle Mariners extended Julio Rodriguez and the Atlanta Braves signed Michael Harris II last August before they each won the Rookie of the Year award in their respective leagues.
So, what’s the range for Carroll if history repeats itself?
Recent league-wide examples
There are eight active contracts of at least five years signed by players 22 years old or younger in MLB. Two are notable outliers when it comes to guaranteed money: the San Diego Padres gave Fernando Tatis Jr. 14 years and $340 million and the Atlanta Braves agreed to a five-year, $35 million contract with Ozzie Albies.
The six in the middle belong to Rodriguez, Harris, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Wander Franco and Ronald Acuna Jr. that fall between $43-210 million in guaranteed money.
There were nooks and crannies to all of the agreements, none more so than in Rodriguez’s case.
Rodriguez was the No. 3 prospect in baseball entering last year, and the young Mariners outfielder signed a rather complex deal with heavy incentives that included player and team options.
It ranges from $210-470 million and can run through 2039. There are incentives for MVPs, Silver Sluggers and All-Star Game appearances. He may not reach free agency until he turns 38. MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer called it one of the most complex deals in league history at the time.
At 21 years, 240 days old, Julio Rodríguez is the youngest player in North American sports history to sign a playing contract worth $200M guaranteed. pic.twitter.com/aqt31UE5C9
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 26, 2022
Former No. 1 overall prospect Franco has a deal that’s a bit more straightforward at $182.2 million over 11 years with $3 million MVP escalators between 2028-32. Franco starts at $1.5 this year, goes to $8.5 in 2025, $15.5 million in 2026, $22.5 million in 2027 and $25.5 million in 2028 when he will be 27 years old.
Perhaps Carroll will land somewhere in between. Rodriguez had more than half a season of success leading to his deal — not a lot of service time but more than Carroll. Franco played 70 games.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported that a deal with Carroll is not imminent, but the D-backs would look to keep the outfielder under team control beyond six seasons.
The risk and reward of doing this sooner than later are clear. He has just over a month of MLB experience, but if he shines in his first full season, demand naturally changes.
“There’s not really expectation, it’s a dangerous game to play with young players,” General manager Mike Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke. “Every player, no matter how talented, has to learn the game at this level through success and failure.”
After the 2024 season, Arizona’s books are pretty clean.
Ketel Marte signed a five-year extension last year through 2027 and will make an adjusted salary of $16.6 million in 2025.
Arizona has a $7 million club option for RHP Merrill Kelly, a $4 million mutual option with RHP Scott McGough and will need to deal with arbitration-eligible players like Zac Gallen or Josh Rojas if they are not extended beforehand.
The D-backs increased their payroll by nearly 30% entering the 2023 season at approximately $120 million.
Owner Ken Kendrick told reporters this week that the organization’s model leans on drafting and development over outside free agents and noted his group will spend more if the team is competitive this year. But there is not much precedent for a D-backs player as young as Carroll getting extended.
Arizona signed Paul Goldschmidt to a five-year deal with $32 million in 2013, but he was 26. Marte’s first extension with the club came when he was 24.
The youngest player to get extended in team history was Justin Upton at 22 years old in 2010. His deal was six seasons for $51.5 million but the D-backs traded him to the Braves after the 2012 campaign.
What’s the hype about?
Carroll can simply hit, run the bases and field very well.
MLB Pipeline graded Carroll as an elite speedster (80), fielder (70) and strong hitter (65). He showed power to all sides last season with 28 home runs and 31 doubles in the majors and minors.
Corbin Carroll can flat-out fly. 👀 pic.twitter.com/caK5RpyBnY
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 4, 2022
“He’s so mature … he’s got so many different aspects of his game that are positives, whether it’s his speed or his defense or his arm,” Hall said. “I mean, he really is like that five-tool player.”
Hazen, despite the caution of expecting too much from young players, noted that Carroll’s intangibles have him on the right path.
Carroll was the first-round pick in 2019, Hazen’s second draft at the helm in Arizona.
“He is an exceptional player,” Hazen said. “He has incredible makeup. And he’s one of the hardest working, most dedicated players we have in our system and on our team. And to me, that’s the foundation for a really good player.”