Royals, SS Bobby Witt Jr. agree to massive long-term deal

Bobby Witt Jr
Posted at 12:27 PM, Feb 05, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If there was any doubt that shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is the face of the Kansas City Royals, that was erased Monday afternoon with the announcement of a franchise-record long-term deal.

The Royals and Witt agreed to terms on a 14-year deal that includes 11 years guaranteed, keeping the former No. 2 overall pick tethered to the team through at least the 2034 season.

Witt, 23, who is entering his third MLB season, slashed .276/.319/.495 last season with 30 home runs and 49 steals. He also led baseball with 11 triples and finished seventh in the AL MVP voting despite Kansas City’s dismal 56-106 record.

“From the moment I was drafted in 2019, the entire Royals organization and fans have treated me and my family like their own,” Witt said in a statement. “This city and this team have felt like home since day one, and it’s an honor to have the opportunity to continue to represent all of KC. I am incredibly grateful to the Sherman family and the Royals front office for believing in me, and I promise to do everything in my power to help bring championship baseball back to Kansas City!”

ESPN’s Jeff Passan said the deal includes nearly $289 million in guaranteed money during the first 11 years of the deal.

“We are extraordinarily proud to announce an historic deal with a very special player,’” Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman said in a statement. “Like our fans, I’m thrilled that this ensures Bobby will compete in a Royals uniform for many years to come. Bobby makes us better, and I’m grateful for his commitment to our fans, our city, and our team.”

Witt had 20 home runs and 30 steals as a rookie in 2022 before becoming the first player in Royals history with at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a season during his second big-league season.

No player in MLB history has ever had at least 50 home runs and 79 steals in his first two seasons until Witt.

“From the day we drafted him, we felt confident Bobby would become one of our game’s brightest stars and biggest talents,” Royals Executive Vice President and General Manager J.J. Picollo said. “These last two seasons have been confirmation of that talent, and proof that he’s an even better teammate. We know he wants to win here for our fans as much as we do.”

Witt has yearly player opt-outs beginning with the seventh season of the contract, according to Passan, which would begin after the 2030 season.

There is a three-year club option worth an additional $89 million after the 11th season, which could push the total contract value to 14 years and $377 million, according to Passan.

The signing comes amid the Royals’ push for passage of a sales-tax extension that would fund a new downtown baseball stadium.