In the midst of perhaps his most valuable all-around season, Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas is being rewarded with a contract extension. As first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, it will be a two-year deal with a club option for 2022. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald pegs the 2020-2021 total at approximately $10 million (presumably not including the buyout on the option).
Coming out of Opening Day, Rojas was being used in a platoon. He also missed most of August with a right hamstring strain. Outside of that, the 30-year-old has been the Marlins’ everyday shortstop, and a good one. Rojas is slashing .288/.338/.388 with a 94 wRC+ in 482 plate appearances. Factoring in defense, he has contributed a career-high 1.9 fWAR.
Originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur out of Venezuela 10 years ago, Miggy Ro was never regarded as an impactful prospect. He was essentially a throw-in when traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins along with Dee Gordon and Dan Haren in December 2014. But Rojas has greatly overachieved thanks to defensive versatility, bat-to-ball skills and sheer determination (on and off the field).
With free agency becoming less lucrative for 30-something players, extensions are increasingly common across Major League Baseball. But not in Miami—Rojas would be the first Marlin to receive one since new ownership took control of the franchise two years ago. Countryman Martín Prado is the most recent example, having received a three-year, $40 million after the 2016 season on the eve of his free agent eligibility.
Rojas earned a $3.16 million salary in 2019. He would’ve been in line for a payday slightly north of $5 million in 2020 via arbitration, and then an even steeper raise in free agency if he maintained this level of production. So Rojas is sacrificing some potential dollars for security and comfort.
The Marlins have a poor track record when it comes to continuity. Rojas already ranks 28th in franchise history in hits and 21st in games played. That’s despite frequently being treated as a part-time player.
This commitment does not “block” promising prospects like Jazz Chisholm or José Devers from challenging for the shortstop gig. Rather, Rojas figures to be a low-risk stopgap/insurance policy in case of injury or underachievement.
The only substantial commitment currently on the 2020 Marlins payroll is the $22 million from Wei-Yin Chen’s expiring deal (Starlin Castro’s club option is expected to be bought out). Although next season is doubtful to be a contending one, CEO Derek Jeter has spoken repeatedly about the urgency to improve at the major league level, making the Fish more attractive to fans and quality players. Showing loyalty to Rojas by retaining him would be a step in the right direction.
More details to come...