Detroit Tigers sign Colt Keith to contract extension worth up

Detroit Tigers sign Colt Keith to contract extension worth up to $82 million over 9 years – Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers sign Colt Keith to contract extension worth upplay

Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch talks about Casey Mize

Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch speaks to reporters at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 5, 2023.

The Detroit Tigers have signed young player Colt Keith to a contract extension.

The contract, which became official Sunday morning, is for six years through the 2029 season and includes club options for the 2030, 2031 and 2032 seasons. The contract will be worth $82 million over nine years, if all options are escalated and exercised.

The long-term agreement all but guarantees that Keith will be the Tigers' Opening Day second baseman and make his MLB debut in 2024. The 22-year-old, who had no major league experience in his three-year professional career, was added to the 40-man roster.

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Keith, who received a $2 million signing bonus, will be $2.5 million in 2024, $3.5 million in 2025, $4 million in 2026, $4 million in 2027, $5 million in 2028 $5 million and earn $5 million in 2029.

The six-year contract, which covers all seasons that Keith would be under team control (including three or four arbitration-eligible years), has a guaranteed value of $28.6425 million.

The three club options: $10 million for 2030 (with a $2,642,500 buyout), $13 million for 2031 (with a $1 million buyout) and $15 million for 2032 (with a $2 million buyout). He can earn an additional $18 million through potential escalators of club options.

“This is a very exciting day for the Detroit Tigers, Colt, his family and our fans,” Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris said in a statement. “Colt has done everything we asked of him in his young career, improving every facet of his game and establishing himself as one of the most promising young players in the game. This contract demonstrates our confidence in Colt and this organization’s commitment to acquiring, developing and retaining young talent.”

The Tigers, under former general manager Al Avila, selected Keith 132nd overall in the fifth round of the 2020 short draft out of Biloxi High School in Mississippi. He was a shortstop in high school and committed to Arizona State, but moved to second base and third base in the minor leagues.

Keith suffered a right shoulder injury in June 2022 that did not require surgery, ending his second season in the minors, but when he returned to full health in October 2022, he raked in the Arizona Fall League to lay the foundation for a breakthrough to lay in its third season.

In 2023, Keith hit .306 with 27 home runs, 60 walks (10.4% walk rate) and 121 strikeouts (21% strikeout rate) in 126 games with Double-A Erie (59 games) and Triple-A Toledo ( 67 games). ). He hit .287 and hit 13 home runs in 301 plate appearances with the Mud Hens.

On May 16, Keith broke through with Double-A Erie, finishing 6-for-6 with two home runs. The Tigers promoted him to Triple-A Toledo on June 26. In his first game with the Mud Hens, he hit a 425-foot home run (in his first plate appearance) and two walks, going 3-4.

“I couldn’t be more excited to reach this agreement and secure my place in this organization for years to come,” Keith said in a statement. “Since I was drafted in 2020, all of the coaches and staff have been invaluable in helping me and my teammates grow on and off the field. There's a reason why it was important to me to make a long-term commitment to be here and be surrounded by incredible people.” A big part of that is talented teammates and coaches.

“I would also like to thank my family, my fiancée, my agent and my friends for their tireless support throughout my life and career. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today. I know this is a huge accomplishment, but ultimately my mission is to be the best player possible and help win a World Series championship for Tigers fans around the world.

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Keith, who is represented by agent Matt Paul of Munger English Sports Management, was compared to 17-year MLB veteran Joey Votto by former Tigers hitting coordinator and current Cincinnati Reds hitting coach Joel McKeithan.

“I definitely see a lot of similarities in the way they move naturally, the way they approach bats and the skills they have,” McKeithan told the Free Press about 12 months ago. “High level approach, ability to control the zone, put the ball in play and get it to all parts of the field.”

He is ranked No. 22 in baseball on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list and No. 28 on Baseball America's Top 100 list. He posted a 75% contact rate and an in-zone contact rate last season of 83.2% with an average exit velocity of 90.4 miles per hour.

Keith becomes the second major prospect to sign a long-term contract extension this offseason, following Jackson Chourio's eight-year, $82 million deal with the Brewers, which is worth up to $142.5 million over 10 years could.

“We’re always open to it,” Harris said Dec. 4 at the winter meetings when asked about possible contract extensions. “I will never comment on it until it is finished, for obvious reasons. But you want to be in a position where you have young players who deserve an extension. I think we're moving in that direction and that's about it. I can really go. … I mean, the Brewers did it because it made sense to them.”

Contact or follow Evan Petzold at [email protected] @EvanPetzold.