SCOTTSDALE – Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll spent 38 days and 32 games on the major league roster in 2022. Despite the small sample size, the organization had seen enough to make a massive financial commitment to Carroll, who is the first in a line of highly-touted prospects.
Carroll, only 22 years old and the second-best prospect in Major League Baseball, signed an 8-year, $111 million contract extension earlier this month. The deal is the largest guaranteed contract for any player with less than 100 MLB service days and carries a ninth-year club option that would potentially keep him in Phoenix through the end of his age 31 season.
“It’s kind of a culminating moment [of my life]. There’s a lot of hard work that has gone into this. By myself, obviously, but a lot of people behind me in that support system as well,” Carroll said.
This trend could have significant effects on Arizona’s payroll in the near future considering its strong prospect pool, which includes three other prospects ranked in the top 100 in shortstop Jordan Lawlar (No. 11), outfielder Druw Jones (No. 15) and right-handed pitcher Brandon Pfaadt (No. 59).
“You can’t have one great player. We need a lot of great players to compete, specifically in our division. You look across the diamond and there’s a lot to match up with and that piece excites me,” Carroll said. “My biggest hope is that those pieces that are coming, the pieces we already have here keep moving the right way and we all keep learning and we build something special.”
Lucrative contracts given to young players like Carroll are becoming more commonplace throughout the league as teams aim for future security for multiple years before the player makes a significant impact at the major league level.
The Chicago White Sox, for example, signed prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert to six-year extensions in back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2020, despite neither playing a single MLB game. Last August, Mariners outfielder and fellow top prospect Julio Rodriguez signed a contract extension after spending only 141 days on the roster.
“Our front office talks about the commitment they have to this team and how much they trust us, and that’s a great way to show the players how much they care moving forward,” catcher Jose Herrera said. “He’s going to help us win games, and to have Corbin for a lot more years is super exciting for us. He’s a great teammate, a great person and we’re happy for him.”
Left-handed pitcher Kyle Nelson shared Herrera’s excitement for the future of the Diamondbacks.
“It’s incredible. It shows the front office has a lot of faith in the young guys coming up,” Nelson said. “They have a lot of faith in him as a player, he’s a phenomenal player and a great kid. So it’s super exciting and kind of, laying down the groundwork for a very bright future.”
Carroll’s first full MLB season comes with high expectations after he was called up to the majors on Aug. 29 and finished last season batting .260/.330/.500, with four homers and 14 RBI in 104 at-bats. Widely considered the front-runner for 2023 NL Rookie of the Year, he’s not intimidated by the preseason projections.
“No added pressure [to win Rookie of the Year]. I don’t really necessarily care what people have to say, good or bad. I think there’s going to be moments of both in my career – where people say great things and people have negative things to say,” Carroll said. “The best thing I can do in terms of going out there and performing consistently is just blocking that out and maintaining that self-image and motivation.”
Rookie of the Year or not, the Diamondbacks are committed to their top prospect for the foreseeable future and will need him to take a step forward this season.
Based on the new extension, the front office apparently believes he will.
“I’ve felt that faith from the organization since the draft. This is a place where I feel very supported both on and off the field. Nothing has changed for me there,” Carroll said. “Obviously they put some financial backing behind that now. But I want to go out there and be the same guy and player and not put any added pressure on myself and just go play baseball.”