Mariners and Julio Rodriguez near massive deal

Mariners and Julio Rodriguez near massive deal

SEATTLE — Julio Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners appear set on a long-term relationship in the Pacific Northwest.

Multiple reports have the Mariners and Rodriguez closing in on a contract extension that would lock up the rookie All-Star likely for at least the next decade.

The Mariners made no announcement about the deal and manager Scott Servais deflected when asked directly about it before the game against Cleveland. But he had glowing remarks about Rodriguez’s first season.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4 1/2, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Servais said. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

The 21-year-old Rodriguez has become a star in his first season with the Mariners. He blossomed from starting spring training as the possible opening day starter in center field to an All-Star in his first season.

Rodriguez is hitting .269 with 20 home runs, 64 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and an OPS of .799. Rodriguez became the fastest player in American League history to reach the mark of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, surpassing Mike Trout.

Rodriguez is the leading candidate for the AL rookie of the year and has helped Seattle be in playoff position entering the final stretch of the regular season with a chance to end the longest postseason drought in major pro spots

“I was fortunate enough, I worked for the Angels a little bit when Mike Trout was coming on board there and Mike’s the greatest player in the last decade without a doubt,” Servais said.

“Julio has got a lot ahead of him, but they’re similar. Personalities are much different but on the field they’re very similar talents. They’re five-tool players. They can run, throw. They have power. I’m just looking forward to having him as part of the organization for a long, long time.”

Rodriguez was already a burgeoning star with his performance in the first half of the season, but broke out on a national stage during the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Rodriguez reached the final where he lost to Juan Soto, but had a memorable first two rounds where he hit 63 total home runs and beat Corey Seager and Pete Alonso.

On top of his pure talent, Rodriguez’s demeanor and charisma on the field has only added to what’s could be a special season for the Mariners. His smile and joy for the game was reminiscent of a past center fielder for the Mariners and some of the same characteristics Ken Griffey Jr. showed early in his career.

Rodriguez was part of some controversial comments made by former Mariners team president Kevin Mather that came to light in early 2021. Mather’s comments were made to the Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club in February 2021 and included disparaging comments about the English of Rodriguez and former Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. Mather resigned within days of his comments becoming public.

Servais praised Rodriguez’s English as part of handling the attention that’s come his way at age 21.

“I’ve said this often, his ability to command the English language at such an early age has really helped,” Servais said. “It’s not easy. If any of you have gone to a foreign country and tried to pick up the language there, it’s really challenging. For him to do that at such an early age, it’s really helped him. It’s helped him on the field. It’s helped him off the field and in relationship building and everything else.”

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