Sometimes, you instantly connect with a person as soon as you meet them. You have a nice rapport, a similar sense of humor, and the same interests — you genuinely enjoy spending time with them and want to keep them around as long as possible. The Arizona Diamondbacks are smitten with their outfielder Corbin Carroll and are offering him an enormous contract to stay in the Grand Canyon State.
Of course, for the team, Carroll’s most intriguing characteristics are his baseball skills, which include incredible speed and solid hitting and power potential. The team has been so impressed by Carroll that they offered him an eight-year, $111 million deal — after the outfielder has only played in 32 Major League games. The contract includes a club option and bonuses that could make the total value worth $154 million over nine seasons.
Per The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan, at 22 years and 202 days at the time of signing, Carroll is the youngest drafted player to ever sign a nine-figure deal.
$111 million for someone who’s played less than 1/5 of a total MLB season is a lot of money. But again, the Diamondbacks are all-in on Carroll — and here’s why this could turn out to be one of the best contracts in baseball.
This offseason showed that the MLB free agent market was booming. Several players received offers close to or in excess of $300 million — sometimes multiple offers, even if they eventually fell through — and veteran pitchers like Justin Verlander were signing shorter deals worth more than $40 million per year.
Rookie contracts in baseball are different than in most other sports. For the first three to four seasons (depending on when the player was called up to the majors), the team fully controls their salary. If they haven’t signed an extension by the time those initial seasons are up, the player is under arbitration for three to four years, where each side says how much money they want, and a third-party arbitrator decides what the player will receive.
By signing Carroll to an eight-year contract, the Diamondbacks are securing him for his first two possible free agent seasons. Those seasons would be years eight and nine of this deal, assuming the team picks up the team option. And they’re likely keeping Carroll at a below-market discount for those years.
Young MLB players with the chance to be elite are in unique positions. Carroll is getting financial security from a very young age. If the team picks up the option and he reaches all his bonuses, he’ll earn $17.1 million per year over the duration of this contract. Even if he earns the absolute minimum, that’s still $13.875 million every season throughout his 20s.
A good negotiation should leave both sides feeling like they came out as winners. The Diamondbacks get the presumptive favorite for Rookie of the Year and a star in the making. Carroll gets years of job security with a huge payday to boot. It’s a great relationship all around.