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AL East Update: Rays Extend Kevin Kiermaier

The extension, good for six seasons, is worth $53.5 million.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays
Kevin Kiermaier does what he does best - field.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier has agreed to a six year extension worth more than $50 million, as first reported by the Tampa Bay Times. The deal will keep the two-time Gold Glove winner under contract well past the 2020 season, when he was set to become a free agent, and increases his annual salary to around $9 million.

At 26-years-old, Kiermaier will be spending his fifth year at the major league level in 2017. Last season, he led the majors with a defensive WAR of 3.0, compared to an even higher 5.0 dWAR in his 2015 season, a decrease that can mainly be contributed towards his midseason injury, as he played in 46 fewer games. Offensively, he had a .246 batting average and .331 OBP.

The interesting discussion, at least in Toronto’s hemisphere, is how it compares to what Kevin Pillar may eventually receive as he approaches free agency.

Both players have near identical service times (Kiermaier: 2.131, Pillar: 2.113) and were poised to become free agents after the 2020 season. Pillar, two years older than Kiermaier, had a higher batting average (.266) but lower OBP (.303) in 2016, which is no surprise, given Pillar’s low walk rates. Although health isn’t an easily comparable asset, both players seem similar.

Should Pillar ever be extended by the Blue Jays, it would likely be a shorter and more economical deal, given his age and comparably worse defense.

On a broader note, Kiermaier’s extended stay in the AL East is all but certain to negatively affect the Blue Jays, as his award-winning defense will be just as prominent over the next six seasons. Removed from the final score of the game, watching Kiermaier’s highlight-reel plays for the foreseeable future will be enjoyable.

To read more on the deal, head over to D Rays Bay.