KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. agreed Monday to an 11-year contract worth about $291 million guaranteed, two people familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Monday.
The deal includes three years of team options that could drive the value to about $377 million and keep Witt in Kansas City through the 2037 season, according to the people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the financial terms were not disclosed. Witt's guarantee salary would make it the 16th largest deal in Major League Baseball history and the second-biggest pre-arbitration extension behind the 14-year, $340 million contract the Padres gave to Fernando Tatis Jr. last April.
The Royals planned a Tuesday news conference to discuss the longest and richest contract in club history.
“From the moment I was drafted in 2019, the entire Royals organization and fans have treated me and my family like their own,” Witt said in a statement issued by the club. “This city and this team have felt like home since Day 1."
The 23-year-old Witt became the first Royals player to enter the 30-30 club last year, when he hit 30 homers and stole 49 bases. The only other American League shortstop to accomplish the feat by Witt's age was Alex Rodriguez in 1998.
Witt's breakthrough season, which resulted in him landing seventh in AL MVP voting, came after he hit 20 homers and stole 30 bases as a rookie. No player in big league history has hit 50 homers and stole 79 bases through his first two seasons.
“From the day we drafted him we felt confident Bobby would become one of our game’s brightest stars and biggest talents,” Royals general manager J.J. Picollo said. “These last two seasons have been confirmation of that talent, and proof that he’s an even better teammate. We know he wants to win here for our fans as much as we do.”
The Royals have spent more than $100 million in free agency this offseason, hoping to turn around the fortunes of a club coming off a disheartening 106-loss season. That investment, coupled with Witt's massive contract, comes as the Royals not only are trying to convince a weary fanbase that they are serious about winning, but also as they attempt to persuade voters in Jackson County, Missouri, to extend a sales tax that would help to pay for a new downtown ballpark.