Rays ensure relatively low salaries in free-agent years

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) In signing Kevin Keirmaier to a $53.5 million, six-year contract, the Tampa Bay Rays ensured the center fielder's salaries will stay relatively low in the first three years after he would have been eligible for free agency.

Keirmaier's deal, announced Monday, includes a $1 million signing bonus payable within 10 days of the agreement's approval by the commissioner's office and salaries of $3 million this year, $5.5 million in 2018 and $8 million in 2019.

His pay increases to $10 million in 2020, the last year before he would have been eligible for free agency, and goes up to $11.5 million in 2021 and $12 million in 2022. Tampa Bay has a $13 million option for 2023 with a $2.5 million buyout.

The option price can escalate by up to $2.15 million to $15.15 million based on MVP vote from 2019-22 and plate appearances: $1 million for each MVP award win, $750,000 for finishing second to fifth and $250,000 for finishing sixth to 10th. The plate appearance escalator has a maximum $500,000, and he would earn it with 550 in 2022 or 1,100 in 2020-21 combined or 2021-22 combined,

Keirmaier would get a $1 million assignment bonus if traded before the end of the 2018 regular season or $500,000 if traded after. He gets a suite on the road but must pay the different in cost between the suite and standard room rate.

Taken with the 941st overall pick on the 31st round if the 2010 amateur draft, Keirmaier is a two-time AL Gold Glove winner. The deal, which could be worth up to $66.15 million, supersedes a $2,975,000, one-year contract agreed to in January.

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