March 25, 2018
There had been a lot of debate in recent weeks over how the Phillies should handle prospect Scott Kingery, who had been tearing it up this spring while playing multiple positions for first-year manager Gabe Kapler.
On one side were those who believe the best option was to start Kingery in the minors, just for a few weeks, in order to maintain an extra year of club control. On the other side were those who felt that was unfair, whether that be to Kingery himself (because it would delay a potential payday in the future) or the team (because he has a chance to be a difference-maker and help the team win games) or even the fans (because, after all, this was supposed to be the year they actually started trying to win).
Well, the Phillies announced their decision on Sunday ... and while it wasn't what anyone was expecting, it should keep the talented 23-year-old prospect in red pinstripes for quite some time.
Kingery and the Phillies met in somewhat of the middle with a new six-year deal that runs through 2023 and includes three years of club options (in 2024, 2025 and 2026), general manager Matt Klentak announced.
It also sends a message to the team, the fans, and anyone else who still unsure – even after the signings of free agents Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana – of the Phillies' attitude moving forward.
The message the Scott Kingery signing sends to the clubhouse, according to Kapler?— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) March 25, 2018
In 20 games for the Phillies this spring, he's slashing .392/.415/.725 in 53 plate appearances. And heading into play on Sunday, Kingery was tied for the Grapefruit League lead in hits (20) and tied for third in total bases (37).
For that, the Phillies have rewarded the utility infielder with what appears to be the richest contract ever handed out to a player prior to his MLB debut. But it will be more than worth it in the long run if Kingery proves to be the real deal.
Jon Heyman reports the deal is worth $24 million through 2023, so that's an average annual value of $4 million over six years for the rookie-to-be. It could prove to be incredibly team friendly if Kingery pans out as expected. As it stands, the contract is easily a record for a player who has not yet hit the majors, eclipsing the Astros' Jonathan Singleton five-year, $10 million deal from several years back. That was previously the only long-term deal in history for a player yet to make his MLB debut. [Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com]
With Kingery now locked up for nearly the next decade – and the service-time issue out of the way – there's no reason the organization's No. 2 prospect shouldn't be on the roster when they open the regular season on Thursday in Atlanta.
Gabe Kapler declined to say if Scott Kingery could be in the Opening Day lineup, but he said Kingery could play start at six different positions throughout year: 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF and RF.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 25, 2018
Last season, Kingery, who is ranked as the 35th-best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, won the Paul Owens Award for the top position player in the Phillies minor league system. In 132 total games between Reading (AA) and Lehigh Valley (AAA), Kingery had a .304 average and hit 26 home runs, 29 doubles, eight triples, and stole 29 bases.
According to the Phillies, he was the only player at any level, minor or major league, to have at least 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases.
After following that up with an impressive spring in 2018, Kingery had earned the right to be on the Phillies Opening Day roster. Turns out, he earned himself quite a bit more than that.
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