Here's what an extension for George Kirby could look like for the Mariners
Ask any Mariners fan which young player they are most excited about, and it's going to be Julio Rodriguez. Duh. Here's the thing. There are still going to be a handful of fans out there that are more curious about George Kirby. He's been on the forefront of many minds ever since posting the insane 23 IP and no walks line in Everett after being drafted in 2019.
You talk to some evaluators and scouts out there, and the names that get thrown around are all-time, top of the game pitchers. Greg Maddux. Cliff Lee. Those aren't just great pitchers. That's a HOFer and a potential HOFer. Both had immaculate control throughout their career. Especially Maddux, as the stories and myths surrounding his arm are incredible, from a minuscule amount of 3-0 counts to a catcher catching the ball with his eyes closed because Maddux put it right in the mitt.
It seems like something that sticks with a pitcher throughout their career. Kirby has shown the ability to just pound the zone, and doing it while his stuff gets better. He set an MLB record in 2022 with 24 straight strikes to start a game. Chances are, Kirby is in for a long and dominant career.
So, why not go way over the top and over him a deal to make him a lifelong Mariners legend, and sign him to one of the longest deals we have ever seen for a pitcher?
Is it dumb to do so? Sure, he's young, only has ~130 pro innings, and who knows what could happen going forward. It's unlikely they would sign him to anything more than something similar to what Spencer Strider got, which was a 6YR/$75M with a 22M option on the 7th year. As of now, Kirby isn't as good as Strider... but could he be? Could he be even better? Not likely if Strider keeps K'ing guys at an all-time record, but Kirby is looking dominant in his own right.
Do you know what else it is, though? Fun. I want to think about Kirby locked up long term, just like how Julio Rodriguez is, and the fact that he could be a Mariner for life. So, here's what I think they could do if they wanted to set some new precedent for locking up a pitcher long-term.
Here's what it comes down to. An 8YR/$85M deal that has a $10M buyout after that 8th season, where the Mariners hold a club option and can let him go. If they pick it up, it adds 6YR/140M onto it. However, I'm adding some escalators in there that could greatly increase the value of the deal. Whether it's CY Young or MVP voting, he would get $1M for a 4th-5th place finish, $2M for 3rd, $3M for 2nd, and $5M for winning either award.
Obviously, it's a big risk to ever pay a pitcher for that long of a period. He's gonna be 25, and I'm talking about paying him through his age-38 season. It's a long time. It's also team friendly if it works out, and would pay off in a major way down the road. Imagine if he does end up having a career worthy of a Cy Young and a couple more top 4 finishes. Would you pay $235M over his career to see him put up Cliff Lee's stats? Could he do even better?
It's wild, it's a bit crazy, but setting it up similar to what Julio got would be really interesting to see. If he just does alright through his first decade or so, you are out of there and away from him after 8YR/95M. Not bad at all. However, if he really does end up as the next stud pitcher, the Mariners would end up with a pretty good bargain, especially when you consider how expensive top of the line pitchers are.