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Royals sign Bobby Witt Jr. to extension –

Superstar shortstop signs 14-year megadeal, with 11 guaranteed seasons

7:18 PM UTC

KANSAS CITY – The Royals have had a big offseason, but what came Monday was the biggest move of the winter, the decade – and maybe in franchise history.

Their superstar is here to stay.

The Royals came to an agreement with Bobby Witt Jr. on a mega-extension on Monday, inking their 23-year-old shortstop to a deal that starts this season and could at least run through the 2034 season – an 11-year guarantee – with a team option that could carry it three more years, through 2037 as a 14-year deal. It’s not only the largest contract in team history, but the first Royals contract spanning 10-plus seasons.

The team did not announce terms of the deal, but a source told it’s worth $288.7 million over the 11 guaranteed seasons, with a three-year team option that could make it worth $377.7 million over 14 total years. There are four player opt-outs starting after the 2030 season through ‘33 – years seven, eight, nine and 10 of the contract – which gives Witt the opportunity to get to free agency or renegotiate the deal. He also receives a $7.7 million signing bonus.

Here’s the breakdown of the full deal, which also includes a no-trade clause, according to a source:

2024: $2 million
2025: $7 million
2026: $13 million
2027: $19 million
2028: $30 million
2029: $35 million
2030: $35 million
2031: $35 million (player option)
2032: $35 million (player option)
2033: $35 million (player option)
2034: $35 million (player option)
Club option: Three years/$89 million
2035: $33 million
2036: $28 million
2037: $28 million

The base deal buys out Witt’s arbitration years, which would have begun after the ‘24 season, and adds two more seasons before player opt-outs begin. So Witt is at least a Royal through 2030, when he’ll be 30 years old.

“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. “This city and this team have felt like home since day one, and it’s an honor to have the opportunity to continue to represent all of KC.”

If Witt’s contract runs the full 14 years, the $377 million would be the third-largest contract in baseball history, as of now. His $26.3 million average annual value is the largest AAV in Royals history and largest AAV signed by a pre-arbitration player.

All offseason, the Royals have stated their intention to keep Witt in a Royals uniform for as long as they can. After watching his historic 30-homer, 49-stolen base season, that meant going higher than they ever have with a player contract.

Witt seems to be worth it and more. Conversations this winter with Witt and his representatives at Octagon reiterated to the Royals that the young shortstop wants to stay in Kansas City for the rest of his career. His favorite players growing up were Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia, two icons who played their entire careers with the Yankees and Red Sox, respectively. Witt sees what Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose contract runs through 2031, has built across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium and wants to help build something similar on the baseball side.

And as the Chiefs prepare this week in Las Vegas for their fourth Super Bowl in the last five years, the Royals took their own major step forward to building that sustainable success. All of this comes just a few months before Jackson County residents vote on whether a stadium sales tax is extended, helping the Royals move out of Kauffman Stadium and to downtown Kansas City by 2028.

“We are extraordinarily proud to announce an historic deal with a very special player,” Royals CEO/chairman John Sherman, who bought the team in 2019, said in a statement. “Like our fans, I’m thrilled that this ensures Bobby will compete in a Royals uniform for many years to come. Bobby makes us better, and I’m grateful for his commitment to our fans, our city, and our team.”

An ultimate competitor who might hate losing even more than he loves winning, Witt wanted to make sure the Royals were ready to build a contender around him. Moves this offseason – adding proven veterans to the rotation, bullpen and offense while committing $109 million in free-agent signings – gave Witt the confidence to get a deal done.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Sherman family and the Royals front office for believing in me, and I promise to do everything in my power to help bring championship baseball back to Kansas City!” Witt Jr. said in his statement.

The son of 16-year Major League pitcher Bobby Witt, “Junior” was picked one spot higher than his dad in the MLB Draft, when the Royals selected him No. 2 overall in 2019 out of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas. Witt has been full-go ever since, becoming MLB’s No. 1 prospect in spring ‘22 before making his Major League debut on Opening Day that season – and helping the Royals win with his first Major League hit and RBI.

But 2023 was undoubtedly Witt’s breakout year. He became the first Royal with a 30-30 season, and his 49 steals made him just the fifth player in Major League history to have 30-plus homers and 49 or more stolen bases in a season. He finished his second season with 4.4 bWAR, a .276/.319/.495 slash line, a 120 OPS+, 96 RBIs and a seventh-place finish in MVP voting. His defense took a major step forward at shortstop, too, with his 14 Outs Above Average ranking first among American League shortstops and third among all positions in the AL.

He is arguably one of the top 10 best players in baseball right now, and it seems like he’s just getting started. Now, he’ll be in a Royals uniform for a long, long time.