Photo courtesy of Royals Review.
The Kansas City Royals have signed 23-year-old shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. to an eleven year contract worth a guaranteed $288.78MM, the largest by far in team history.
Witt will have several chances to opt out of the deal and will be able to test free agency after each of the seasons between 2030 and 2033. If he doesn’t exercise any of these opt-out clauses, the Royals would receive a three-year option after the 2034 season. That’s an added $89 million option covering 2035-2037, bringing the contact to a maximum value of $377 million over the 14 years. Witt will receive a $7.77 million signing bonus.
This deal more than triples the previous largest contract in Royals history when they signed catcher Salvador Perez to an $82 million extension in 2021.
This activity seems to be a trend around the majors as smaller market teams are beginning to lock up their younger talent while they are still in their pre-arbitration years. Just this offseason, the Brewers extended Jackson Chourio for $82 million in total and the Tigers did the same for Cole Keith for $28.66 million before either player has appeared in a big league game. Corbin Carroll ($111 million) and Julio Rodriguez ($210 million) cashed in with less than one year service time while Bobby Witt Jr. has just 2 years service time.
Witt Jr. had a huge season for the Royals in 2023, hitting .276 with 30 homers and 96 RBI while stealing 49 bases. He will be counted on to lead a Royals team that is coming off a 106-loss season and is continuing to rebuild.