The Rays have signed Kevin Kiermaier to a six year contract extension:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 15, 2017
Who says defense doesn’t pay? Kiermaier is probably the best defensive player in all of baseball, regardless of position. He’s ranked first in defensive WAR each of the last two seasons and also has the most defensive runs saved during that time period with 67. As Nightengale notes, he’ll be earning more than Andrew McCutchen who is considered a defensive liability according to defensive runs saved (-28) but does significantly more with his bat even after having the worst season of his career.
This sounds like a lot of money for a guy who hits just enough to be a daily Major League player, but it’s not. Though defensive metrics are unreliable at this point, we know that defense matters. The Cubs had the most defensive runs saved last year and it wasn’t even close. The Astros were next and trailed them by 31 runs. The Cubs paid big for Jason Heyward and they’ve literally only gotten defense out of him, so the Rays locking in their center fielder based on his defense isn’t that absurd.
This will be all I write about Kiermaier for awhile because spelling his name is surprisingly difficult.