The Philadelphia Phillies are showing a lot of faith to a player who has never received a major-league at-bat. Infielder Scott Kingery agreed to a six-year deal with the club, which guarantees him $24 million.
It’s a bold move for the team and the 23-year-old. Kingery has been a standout this spring, hitting .392 over 51 at-bats. He was initially expected to begin the season in the minors, but his performance, and his new deal, make it likely he’ll play a significant role for the Phillies right now.
While Kingery doesn’t have major-league experience, he’s not without promise. Kingery came into the spring ranked as the the team’s No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America. He’s considered a solid prospect in all areas, with each of his five tools rating above-average.
The amount of money in the deal is sure to set off alarm bells considering Kingery’s inexperience, but it’s actually not too crazy. The deal will cover all of Kingery’s arbitration years. As long as he’s not a complete bust, he would probably make close to $24 million — or potentially exceed it.
Here’s how the deal breaks down, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic.
Here’s the breakdown of the Scott Kingery contract:
$1.5 signing bonus
2019: $1.25 mil
2020: $1.5 mil
2021: $4.0 mil
2022: $6.0 mil
2023: $8.0 mil
2024-26 options are $13, $14, $15 with $1 mil buyout.
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) March 25, 2018
That’s not much money committed to Kingery through 2023. After that, he’s eligible to have options picked up depending on his performance. If he’s an average player, the Phillies will exercise those options happily.
The only similar deal in recent history didn’t work out so well for the team. The Houston Astros signed first baseman Jonathan Singleton to a $10 million deal before he reached the majors in 2014. Singleton has been a bust, hitting just .191 in 58 major-league plate appearance. While Singleton’s deal gets criticized regularly, it has not impacted the Astros from making moves in recent years.
It would also be disingenuous to compare both players. Kingery and Singleton are wildly different on the field, and Singleton has dealt with multiple marijuana-related suspensions that have kept him away from baseball for extended periods.
The Kingery deal — like the deals for Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta this winter — symbolizes that the Phillies’ competitive window is now open. The team foresees success in the near future, and wants to make sure Kingery is a big part of the young core that leads them there.
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