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Wander Franco, Rays closing in on massive contract extension for 20-year-old star

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Shortstop Wander Franco quickly emerged as one of MLB‘s best players this season and the Tampa Bay Rays are wasting no time locking him up. The club is closing in on signing Franco to a record-setting contact extension and Jim Bowden of CBS Sports HQ reports the deal is expected to be in the 12-year, $225 million range. The team has not yet confirmed the news.

The current record contract for a player with less than one full year of service time is Ronald Acuña Jr.‘s eight-year, $100 million contract with the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves, a record Franco is poised to smash. Here are the largest ever contracts given to players with less than a full year of service time (not including players signed from Japan or Korea):

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves: 8 years and $100 million
  2. Luis Robert, White Sox: 6 years and $50 million (signed prior to MLB debut)
  3. Eloy Jiménez, White Sox: 6 years and $43 million (signed prior to MLB debut)
  4. Paul DeJong, Cardinals6 years and $26 million
  5. Chris Archer, Rays: 6 years and $25.5 million

The contract guarantees Franco $182 million across 11 years with a $25 million club option for a 12th season, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. There also salary escalators tied to finishes in the MVP voting beginning in 2028. The contract does not include a no-trade clause (the Rays have never given out a no-trade clause), though Franco will receive a $3 million bonus if traded.

The 11-year term would cover Franco’s remaining six years of team control (three pre-arbitration and three arbitration) plus five free agent years, with a club option for a sixth free agent year. It would also cover his age 21-31 seasons, meaning Franco would still be in line for a large free agent contract once this deal expires. If the club option is picked up, Franco would become a free agent at the same age Starling Marte is right now, for reference.

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Franco, 21 in March, was the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball going into each of the last two seasons. He was called up to make his MLB debut in June and became an impact player almost immediately, hitting .288/.347/.463 with seven home runs in 70 games. Franco struck out only five times in his final 31 games, and he went 7 for 19 (.368) in four postseason games. He also tied Hall of Famer Frank Robinson’s record by reaching base in 43 straight games as a 20-year-old.

As much as any single player can be a centerpiece for the Rays, Franco is already the face of the franchise, and locking him up was the only way to keep him long-term, realistically. Tampa will never win a free agent bidding war for an elite player, and they have a long history of trading players when they start to get expensive through arbitration. Franco could have found himself on the trade block in 3-4 years if not for this contract.`

The Rays of course have a long history of locking up their best players early in their careers. They famously signed Evan Longoria to a six-year contract worth $17.5 million six days into his big league career, then the record for a player with less than one year of service time. Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe, Matt Moore, and Blake Snell are among the others to sign long-term with Tampa.

Franco’s contract is far and away the largest in Rays history in terms of total guarantee, beating out Longoria’s six-year, $100 million extension in 2012. Franco’s reported $16.55 million average annual value is just under Longoria’s $16.67 million, however. Kiermaier ($53.5 million) and Snell ($50 million) are the only others plays to sign deals worth at least $50 million with Tampa.

Over the last three seasons the Rays have won more games than any other American League team, and this past season they won the AL East with a 100-62 record. The franchise is still searching for its first ever World Series championship, but they have a very impressive young core even outside Franco, plus a top farm system. They are in position to contend for several more years.

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It should be noted Franco’s extension extends beyond 2027, when the team’s Tropicana Field lease expires. The Rays continue to explore a two-city solution with Tampa and Montreal, which doesn’t seem all that realistic. Wherever they’re playing come 2028, the Rays know they will be able to open their new stadium will Franco as their cornerstone player.

The Padres signed Fernando Tatis Jr. Jr. to a 14-year, $341 million contract this February. He signed when he was four years away from free agency, not six like Franco, giving him more leverage and earning potential. Nationals wunderkind Juan Soto (three years from free agency) and Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Jr. (four years away) could be next in line to sign a huge extension.





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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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