Julio is here to stay

Rodriguez inks $470 million deal, committed to Seattle



Julio Rodríguez has been nothing short of a superstar for the Seattle Mariners and singed what could be the most lucrative deal in American sports history in August.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

I love Julio Rodriguez and you should too.

Julio is the perfect blend of everything that makes baseball brilliant. His youthful energy, contagious smile, appreciation and service to the fans, precision at the plate, and sheer brilliance with the leather in his hand each present an array of reasons to love Julio.

“Once you step on the field you gotta think that they’re kids, old people … everybody that is looking up to you,” Rodriguez said in a Mariners press conference. “There [were] more people in the stands yesterday, than [were] in my hometown.”

On Aug. 26, Rodríguez signed what is essentially a 12-year $210 million deal that through various avenues could extend to 17 years and $470 million. The deal would be the largest in American sports history, according to ESPN.

“What can I say, I’m just happy to be a Mariner, I’m happy to be a Mariner for as long as I can,” Rodríguez said.

Julio first gained the attention of Mariners fans as he rose through the Mariners’ minor leagues. He signed his first professional baseball contract with the Seattle Mariners organization in July 2017 at 16. The Mariners expected great things from the Dominican stud, as they gave him a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The Dominican Republic native began his career playing for the Mariners’ Dominican Republic team in Boca Chica.

By the time he was 18, he was playing minor league baseball in the U.S. In 2019, he was one of three 18-year-olds to play in High-A ball. By the end of that season, he was considered the Mariners’ second best prospect and in the top 25 of all of baseball by MLB Pipeline.

The Dominican Republic has generated a lot of baseball talent, including Adrián Beltré, Robinson Cano and David Ortiz (each has spent some period of time in the Mariners organization).

Current Dominicans excelling in baseball include Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. Simply put, baseball’s brightest stars.

In 2014, the same year the Seattle Mariners signed Dominican native Robinson Cano to a 10-year $240 million deal, the organization opened a shiny $7 million facility in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, according to MLB.com.

Mariners’ leadership at the time took great pride in the facility as it was clear that the country was a hotbed for franchise cornerstones and generational talents.

Eight years later, that investment in the Dominican Republic and a commitment to international signings by the Mariners front office has put the Mariners in serious contention for what would be their first postseason appearance in 21 years.

Never mind the fact that the Mariners have not made the playoffs at all during my 20 years of life, I never got the chance to watch a star player begin his career with such storybook success and youthful exuberance.

For my first 10 years of life, Ichiro Suzuki played in Seattle but the Mariners failed to surround him with a capable-enough team to consistently win.

Ken Griffey Jr. returned to Seattle in 2009 but only as a victory lap as he rounded out his major league career in the house that he built by being a generational talent for the Mariners in the 90s.

It is common practice for fans to have unrealistic expectations from the get-go but Rodríguez’s success is very real. Below are a series of tweets by the Mariners’ resident statistical guru, Alex Mayer that put Rodríguez’s success into perspective.



Stats have their limits but simply saying that Julio performed just as well or even faster than Ichiro or Mike Trout is quite inspiring.

As of Tuesday, Rodríguez sported a .272 batting average .331 on-base percentage and .479 slugging. Phenomenal numbers for anyone but especially for a rookie. He is already a member of the 20-20 club as a rookie with 23 home runs and 24 stolen bases through 118 games.

Factor in his spectacular MLB Home Run Derby performance when he smacked 81 home runs, the second-most home runs hit all-time in the derby and you have baseball’s next superstar. Many pinpoint this as the moment Julio became a star but Mariners fans knew his success was a long time coming.

The fact that he signed his deal during Ichiro weekend was certainly an intentional narrative planned by the Mariners and spotlights Ichiro’s mentorship of Julio.

On Aug. 26, Julio signed a deal that will not only change baseball in Seattle but change baseball period.

Rodriguez signed a contract with a minimum value of $120 million over seven years with a five-year player option that raises it to 12 years and $210 million and a max value of 17 years and $470 million. The contract features a myriad options based on his performance in MVP voting and other accolades.

The options keep Julio in Seattle for either the next seven, 12, 14, 15 or 17 years. It gives him the option to enter free agency before his age-30 season if the Mariners decline his option and provides a deal that should stay competitive with any free agent offers he may receive even in 2030, according to Lookout Landing.

Rodríguez’s deal means that the city of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest will get to see Julio grow up. One can only hope that his journey will finally bring the Mariners to the postseason for years to come beginning in 2022 and will lead to true contention for pennants and championships.

“I love to keep representing this city and bring a championship,” Rodriguez said. “I know that is what we’re driving for: win for this city and win for these fans.”