This MLB Prospect Is Getting More Than $28 Million Before Ever Playing A Game


Unlike some other sports, MLB teams don’t have a salary cap they need to adhere to. If an owner wants to spend a ton of money to improve their team’s roster, they can make it happen. We’ve certainly seen it this offseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have committed more than $1 billion to free agents, including a record-setting amount for Shohei Ohtani.

In those cases, the players being signed have produced at high levels, either in the major leagues or other professional international leagues.

Yet the Detroit Tigers just committed north of $28 million — fully guaranteed — to a player who’s never played a major league game at all.

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Tigers signed Colt Keith, a 22-year-old infield prospect, to a six-year contract that will pay him at least $28,642,500. If Keith plays well, the deal includes three team options that could bump the contract up to $64 million over nine seasons. The contract also has performance escalators, meaning Keith could make up to $82 million if he reaches certain milestones.

Keith had strong performances in both Double-A and Triple-A, which encouraged the Tigers to offer a long-term deal now. His yearly salary will steadily increase as the contract extends. He’ll get a $2 million signing bonus and make $2.5 million this season. He’ll then get $3.5 million in 2025, $4 million in both 2026 and 2027, and $5 million in both 2028 and 2029.

If, at that point, the Tigers want to part ways, they can buy out Keith for $2,642,500. If they want to keep him, he’ll make $10 million in 2030. His other team options include $13 million in 2031 (with a $1 million buyout) and $15 million in 2032 (with a $2 million buyout).

A player getting big money with no major league service is rare, but it may be a growing trend. Earlier this offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers gave Jackson Chourio an eight-year deal worth $82 million. Chourio is just 19 years old and will turn 20 slightly before the MLB season starts in the spring.

The Tigers are hoping their gamble pays have, as they’ve had seven straight losing seasons. Though they won the American League pennant in 2012, it’s been 40 years since they last won a World Series.

If Kent lives up to the promise he’s shown at lower levels, he’ll end up being a steal for the Tigers.

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