Rays discussed the extension with top prospect Curtis Mead

Rays discussed the extension with top prospect Curtis Mead
Rays discussed the extension with top prospect Curtis Mead

The Rays and the best prospect on the field Curtis Mead have been in talks regarding a possible contract extension this spring, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (

). There’s no indication a deal is likely or imminent, though the talks add an interesting story to the Tampa Bay camp.

Mead, 22, has yet to make his major league debut. Originally signed by the Phillies as an international amateur from Australia, he transferred to Tampa Bay during the 2019-20 offseason as a left-hander. Christophe Sanchez. Mead hadn’t even reached the full season ball at the time, but he came across as a solid find for the Rays’ scouting department. The 2020 minor league season was scrapped due to the pandemic, but Mead has crashed since returning to play in 2021.

The right-handed hitter combined for a .321/.378/.533 line across three minor league levels that season, topping at Double-A. He split the 22-year campaign between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, setting a .298/.390/.532 mark with 27 doubles and 13 homers in just 76 games. The bulk of that work came in Double-A, with Mead playing just 20 games at the top level of the minor leagues. That’s largely down to an elbow injury that cost him most of the second half of the season, possibly wiping out his chances of reaching MLB last year.

Tampa Bay made the obvious decision to add Mead to their 40-player roster this offseason to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft. He can still be opted for the minors for three straight seasons and looks likely to start. the 2023 campaign in Durham. If Mead continues to hit at the level he has for the past two years, however, he will be getting a big league look before long.

Mead heads into this season ranked between 20th and 40th on Baseball America, ESPN, The Athletic and FanGraphs’ top prospect lists. Reviewers praise his bat, although there are a number of questions about his long-term defensive fit. He played mostly second and third base in the minors; however, there appears to be some risk that he will eventually have to move to left field or potentially work primarily as a designated hitter.

Regardless of Mead’s defensive output, the Rays are clearly in love with his bat enough that they’re ready to fire on their window of club control. Tampa Bay has already controlled him for at least six seasons. Send him back to the minors in early 2023 – a fairly reasonable move given Mead’s lack of Triple-A experience and a mix on the pitch that already includes the likes of Jonathan Aranda, Brandon Lowe, Take a walk Franco, isaac paredes, Yandy Diaz And Vidal Brujan — would likely delay his path to free agency an additional season. Mead has prospect status to potentially “earn” a full year of service time even if he’s not in the majors for 172 days under the prospect promotion program in the collective agreement, but he would need of a top two in Rookie of the Year votes to do so.

There have been a handful of extensions for players who have yet to make their big league debut. Jon Singleton, Scott Kingery, Evan White, Eloy Jiménez And Luis Robert have all signed such deals since 2014. Singleton was guaranteed $10 million, while White and Kingery each locked in $24 million. Jiménez got $43 million. Robert holds the record for such transactions with a guarantee of 50 million dollars.

Robert and Jiménez were generally considered higher caliber talent at the time of their deals than Mead is now. Jiménez had ranked as Baseball America’s No. 3 prospect at the time of his contract; Robert was ranked number 2 in the sport in the minor leagues when he put pen to paper. Kingery (BA’s No. 31 prospect in 2018) and White (No. 54 in 2020) fit more into the bucket that Mead now finds himself in: excellent prospects but a bit behind the real talent of elite of the game’s minor leagues.

Neither Kingery nor White have lived up to their clubs’ expectations so far. Both teams would surely like an overhaul of these contracts, although even the failures had a fairly modest effect on the teams’ books. White is making $3 million this season and will get $7 million and $8 million respectively over the next two years. Kingery owes $9 million this year, including a buyout on a 2024 club option.

The Rays don’t spend near the level of Philadelphia and are even far behind Seattle, so a deal for Mead would be a bit riskier than those for White or Kingery. Still, the potential payoff from locking in high-end talent at below-market rates is enough to get teams interested in this type of arrangement. Tampa Bay did not reach any overtime with players before their MLB debut, but they had done exceptionally well in early career pacts for Evan Longoria and Brandon Lowe before either reached 50 major league competitions.


. Les rays ont discussed the extension with best hope Curtis Mead

. Rays discussed extension top prospect Curtis Mead

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