ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are set to continue their recent run on multiyear contract extensions, as multiple sources told MLB.com on Saturday they are closing in on a three-year, $24 million deal with infielder Yandy Díaz.
If finalized, Díaz’s contract would include an option for the 2026 season, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Juan Toribio. Feinsand was the first to report the potential deal, which has not been confirmed by the team.
The guaranteed portion of the extension would cover the 31-year-old Díaz’s final two years of arbitration eligibility, plus his first year of free agency. Having the option picked up would push back his free agency by two years.
This would be the third such extension the Rays have hammered out this week. They previously agreed to a four-year, $31 million deal with starter Jeffrey Springs on Wednesday and a three-year, $12 million deal with Pete Fairbanks on Friday, with each deal including a club option and incentives that would further escalate the contract’s total value.
Assuming they cross the finish line on a deal with Díaz, the Rays will have trimmed their list of unsigned arbitration-eligible players from seven to four: Harold Ramírez, Colin Poche, Ryan Thompson and Jason Adam. Arbitration hearings are scheduled to begin next week, but Tampa Bay has clearly shown a willingness to negotiate multiyear agreements to avoid a crowded slate of hearings.
Díaz is coming off the best season of his career. The musclebound corner infielder hit .296/.401/.423 with nine homers, 33 doubles, 57 RBIs, more walks (78) than strikeouts (60) and career highs in OPS+ (143) and WAR (3.5) while spending most of his time at third base for the Rays.
Until a shoulder injury limited him to nine plate appearances over the final two weeks of the regular season, he was by far the most consistent presence in a Tampa Bay lineup that dealt with injuries to key players like Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Manuel Margot, Mike Zunino and Kevin Kiermaier.
Díaz figures to once again play an important role for the Rays this season, likely batting near the top of the order along with Franco, Lowe and Randy Arozarena. Díaz could line up at first or third base or split time between the two, as he’s often done since joining the Rays from Cleveland as part of a three-team trade in December 2018.
Tampa Bay once made a habit of signing its young stars to long-term extensions, and the club has shifted back toward these multiyear deals over the last year or so. Last winter, the Rays signed Franco to an 11-year extension. Margot agreed last spring to a two-year contract that delayed his free agency, and Tyler Glasnow did the same in August.
Those players joined Lowe, who signed a six-year deal in March 2019, as Rays players signed to multiyear extensions. Tampa Bay showed a further willingness to offer multiyear contracts in December by signing free-agent starter Zach Eflin for three years and a franchise-record $40 million.
The Rays still could trade some of those players while under contract, but taken all together, it’s been a somewhat surprising push toward continuity for a club that’s become well-known for frequently turning over its roster even while reaching the postseason four years in a row.
According to GM Peter Bendix, that’s a testament to how much the Rays like their core group of players.
“We recognize that this is a really talented group. The season didn’t end the way we wanted last year, but we’ve had a run here of really talented teams that have won a lot of games — and we want to build on that,” Bendix said Friday while discussing Fairbanks’ deal. “Our goal is to win a World Series. Our goal is to win multiple World Series. And if we see opportunities that we can double down on strengths and see opportunities where we can push some chips in and really try to win as many games as we can, we’re going to be looking for that.
“We always keep that one eye on the future; it’s a cliche, but it’s true. But we’re really trying to win as many World Series as we can and not take for granted this period where we have a lot of talent.”