Royals sign Bobby Witt Jr. to largest contract in franchise history, reportedly worth $288.8M

Bobby Witt Jr. has a lucrative new contract in Kansas City. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Bobby Witt Jr. has a lucrative new contract in Kansas City. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images) (Ed Zurga via Getty Images)

The Kansas City Royals announced Monday that they signed Bobby Witt Jr. to the largest contract in franchise history.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, the deal is worth $288.8 million over 11 years. A shortstop with power and speed on the basepaths, Witt is one of the best young players in baseball, and the contract keeps him with the Royals through his prime on a lucrative deal. The deal also arrives a year before Witt would've become arbitration-eligible after the 2024 season.

Witt, 23, is entering his third MLB season. In 158 games last year, he slashed .276/.319/.495 with 30 home runs, 96 RBI and 49 stolen bases. His 11 triples led the AL. After struggling on defense as a rookie, Witt showed great strides in his second MLB campaign. He also reduced his strikeout rate from among the league's worst (21.4%) as a rookie to 17.4% in 2023, placing him in MLB's 79th percentile. Overall, he produced 4.4 WAR in 2023.

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Per Passan, the contract includes opt-outs for Witt in years seven through 10. The Royals have an option after the 11th season to extend the contract by three years and $89 million. That would bring the total value of the deal to $377.8 million over 14 years.

The Royals selected Witt out of high school with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft. After three years in the minor leagues, which included Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2021, Witt joined the Royals full-time in 2022. He hit 20 home runs and stole 30 bases as a rookie and finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He followed that with a 2023 campaign that earned a seventh-place finish in MVP voting.

For the Royals, the contract signals an investment in winning on the heels of a 56-106 campaign and while Jackson County voters face a referendum on whether to raise the sales tax to help fund a new downtown stadium.

Witt's father, Bobby Witt Sr., played 16 MLB seasons as a pitcher and won a World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. His father now works as his agent and helped negotiate the record-setting contract.