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Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2017

The Tampa Bay Rays and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier are reportedly finalizing a six-year contract extension that could be worth more than $50 million, according to the Tampa Bay Times‘ Marc Topkin.

FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman confirmed the news.

Kiermaier was slated to earn a shade under $3 million in 2017 after he avoided arbitration and struck a one-year deal with the Rays.

The 26-year-old would also have been arbitration-eligible in 2018 and 2019 before hitting the free-agent market in 2020.

But now that the two sides have reportedly agreed to terms, Kiermaier projects as one of Tampa Bay’s cornerstones for years to come.

A Gold Glove winner in 2015 and 2016, Kiermaier has cemented himself as one of Major League Baseball’s premier defenders. To that point, he’s led the American League in defensive wins above replacement each of the past two seasons.

In fact, Kiermaier was so solid last season that he led the AL in defensive wins above replacement (3.0) despite appearing in just 105 games because of two fractured bones in his left hand.

“I still don’t know how WAR is calculated, but I think, even though I’m not out there hitting 35 home runs and driving in 120—and those guys are very valuable—I’m a game-changer out there,” he said last March, per USA Today‘s Gabe Lacques. “I’ll let those guys up there working on the computers value that whatever way they want.”

So while he may be slashing a modest .258/.313/.425 for his career with 32 home runs and 112 RBI, Kiermaier has the mindset and the defensive skills necessary to cement himself as one of the AL’s premier talents.

 

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.



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