The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a long-term contract extension with outfielder Corbin Carroll, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Steve Gilbert reports. According to Gilbert, the deal will be for eight years and a guaranteed $111 million. An option for the 2031 season, if exercised, would push the total value to $134 million. CBS Sports HQ has confirmed the deal.
Carroll presently has just 38 games of major-league service time, which helps make this reported deal a record:
It is the largest contract ever signed by a player with less than 100 days Major League service time (and no foreign playing experience) eclipsing the $70 million extension recently signed by Michael Harris.— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) March 11, 2023
Nick Piecoro was first to report that the two sides were in talks on a long-term deal.
Carroll, 22, made his major-league debut last season, and in 32 games for the Diamondbacks he slashed .260/.330/.500 (133 OPS+) with four home runs and nine doubles. His rookie status will remain intact for the 2023 season, and the former No. 16 overall pick projects to be Arizona's starting left fielder. Earlier this year, our R.J. Anderson ranked Carroll as baseball's No. 2 prospect. Here's what he wrote:
"Carroll was limited by injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic to 142 minor-league games ahead of his debut in Arizona last August. The lack of repetitions didn't prevent him from batting .260/.330/.500 (133 OPS+) with four home runs and two steals in 32 games. Carroll continued to exhibit swing-and-miss tendencies within the zone, ranking in the 27th percentile in that respect. That flaw won't sink him (Paul Goldschmidt and the aforementioned Gunnar Henderson were just two recognizable names around him on the leaderboard), but it may result in a higher strikeout rate than he was expected to post in the past. Still, Carroll is a well-rounded center fielder with top-of-the-scale speed who ought to provide oodles of secondary value. He should begin the season in the majors."
At a minimum, this deal would lock up Carroll through his age-29 season and buy out at least two of his free-agent years. If the option year is exercised, then Carroll would reach free agency for the first time at age 31.
The usual incentives for such deals involving very young players apply. Committing long-term to the Diamondbacks gives Carroll life-changing money and a powerful hedge against career-altering injuries and struggles. From the club standpoint, the extension gives them cost certainty through Carroll's arbitration years, lengthens the window of team control, and installs a centerpiece talent around which to build as they look to move into contending mode. There's risk on both sides in arrangements such as these, but a sensible middle ground seems to have been achieved.
Other recent long-term contract extensions involving players with less than one year of MLB service time include Wander Franco with the Rays (11 years, $182 million), Ronald Acuña with the Braves (seven years, $99.44 million), Harris' deal noted above, Luis Robert of the White Sox (six years, $50 million), and Eloy Jiménez of the White Sox (six years, $43 million). Robert and Jiménez signed their extensions prior to ever appearing in the majors.
The 2023 World Baseball Classic is already underway and Team USA will finally get in on the action Saturday, playing its first official game of the tournament in a clash with underdog Great Britain. So to get the baseball enthusiast in general and the U.S. rooter in particular in the proper frame of mind, we're here for a quick walking tour of this edition of Team USA. We'll do in the timeless medium of "things to know," in which we designate multiple things – things related to the topic at hand – as being worthy of knowing.
Relatedly, here is the full WBC schedule, and here is everything you need to know about this year's event. Now let's talk Team USA.
1. Team USA is the defending WBC champs
Thanks largely to the pandemic, the 2023 edition is the first WBC in six years. Way back yonder in 2017, the U.S. claimed its first WBC title with a 2-1 win over Japan in the semifinals and an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the finals. That marked the first time in the relatively brief history of the WBC that Team USA was able to win it:
Of note is that the MVP of Team USA's 2017 title run, Marcus Stroman, is back in the WBC this time around, but he's not pitching for the U.S. In appreciation and honor of his mother's Puerto Rican roots, he'll be helming the rotation for Yadier Molina's Puerto Rico squad.
2. The U.S. should be considered the favorites in its first-round pool
And what about the chances for a U.S. repeat? It figures to be aided by the fact that the U.S. in the round-robin opening round will be part of a winnable Pool C. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the quarterfinals, and in the case of the U.S. they'll be competing against Mexico, Canada, Colombia, and Great Britain to claim one of those two Pool C spots. Per our Matt Snyder's pre-tourney WBC Power Rankings, Team USA should be the pool favorites on paper. They come in ranked third, and Mexico and Canada check in at No. 6 and No. 10, respectively. Saturday's opponent for the U.S., Great Britain, is pegged 16th out of 20 teams. Compare that to the utter gauntlet that is Pool D – No. 1 Dominican Republic, No. 4 Venezuela, and No. 5 Puerto Rico will all call it home for the initial round.
After pool play, the WBC becomes in essence a single-elimination, eight-team tournament, and in a sport like baseball, chaos tends to reign in such a format. Team USA, though, should be a part of it.
3. The American lineup is stacked with All-Stars
Does the 2023 WBC team feature the best collection of hitters in Team USA history? You can make a persuasive argument that it does. Consider the lineup that manager Mark DeRosa can trot out against right-handed pitching:
As for other options, including potential platoon partners, the U.S. roster also includes the imposing likes of Pete Alonso, Cedric Mullins, Will Smith, Tim Anderson, and Bobby Witt Jr. It's also possible that Betts sees time at second base, which would give DeRosa even more roster flexibility. Shuffle it around however you choose – the point is that it's a powerhouse lineup no matter how you structure it. Speaking of which, here's DeRosa's actual lineup for the recent exhibition against the Giants:
Here’s Team USA’s lineup vs. the Giants: pic.twitter.com/CkoS5NTQxe— Maria I. Guardado (@mi_guardado) March 8, 2023
If the U.S. winds up defending belt and title, then the offense will probably carry them there.
4. The rotation is a big question mark
And now for the letdown. Finding starting pitchers willing to go full-bore in the WBC when the calendar says they should still be ramping up is always a challenge, usage rules notwithstanding. The U.S. assortment of starters this time around speaks to this reality. Right now, Lance Lynn of the White Sox, Miles Mikolas of the Cardinals, teammate Adam Wainwright, Nick Martinez of the Padres, Kyle Freeland of the Rockies, Merrill Kelly of the Diamondbacks, and Brady Singer of the Royals constitute DeRosa's rotation options. To be sure, that's hardly an embarrassing crop, but it's well shy of the star power found in the lineup. As well, one of those pitchers – Wainwright – is 41 years of age and has been battling velocity loss this spring.
In addition to Stroman's situation noted above, the U.S. also planned to have Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Nestor Cortes of the Yankees in the mix, but health concerns got in the way. As well, Giants ace Logan Webb was poised to participate but wound up not being on the roster. Maybe all of this isn't such a concern in pool play, but it could be once the U.S. runs into a thunderous lineup like the Dominican Republic's down the road.
5. The bullpen may be capable of picking up the slack
All that said, the U.S. bullpen may just be there for U.S. starting pitchers with nowhere left to turn. Given the high-leverage nature of things, contemporary managerial strategy, and the limitations placed on starters, relievers figure to play a very important role in the WBC. Fortunately for the U.S., they should be well equipped on that front.
Leading the charge for the U.S. relief corps will be, in no particular order, Devin Williams of the Brewers, Adam Ottavino of the Mets, Ryan Pressly of the Astros, Jason Adam of the Rays, David Bednar of the Pirates, Brooks Raley of the Rays, and Kendall Graveman of the White Sox (and an unused starter or two to be named). That octet in 2022 combined for an ERA of 2.32 with 580 strikeouts in 468 2/3 innings and a strikeout-to-unintentional-walk ratio of 3.92. In the aggregate, that's elite run prevention, a lot of missed bats, and dominance at the command-and-control level. There's not much in the way of depth from the left side, but overall that's a dominant assemblage of relievers. That's just what they need, given the suspect rotation.