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Rays, Kevin Kiermaier nearing $50 million extension

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) heads to the dugout after striking out in the top of the first against the Toronto Blue Jays during a spring training game at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Fla. on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) heads to the dugout after striking out in the top of the first against the Toronto Blue Jays during a spring training game at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Fla. on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
Published Mar. 15, 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays and Kevin Kiermaier are working on a long-term deal that could keep the Gold Glove centerfielder under team control for at least six more years and be worth more than $50 million, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

UPDATE: Kiermaier thankful, grateful for pending $53.5-million deal with Rays

Neither Rays officials, Kiermaier nor his representatives at Reynolds Sports Management would comment Tuesday night on the specifics. No announcement is expected for at least a few days as final paperwork and a physical have to be completed.

Finalizing the contract would be a big deal and a major sign of commitment for both sides, as Kiermaier has emerged from being a 31st-round pick to one of the team's most dynamic and popular players — a clubhouse, marketing and fan favorite.

Kiermaier, 26, was to make $2.975 million this year after qualifying for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two; the new contract — with an annual average value of nearly $9 million — will start this season.

Kiermaier is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season, so this deal could keep him with the Rays for several years beyond. Based on long-term contracts the Rays have struck with other players, there are likely at least one or two team option years included.

Kiermaier has turned into one of the game's most exciting players with his combination of speed, athleticism and hustle, evidenced by his walkup song, Hustlin'. He won a second straight Gold Glove in 2016 despite missing two months with a fractured left hand, leading all centerfielders with 25 defensive runs saved, while also hitting .246 with a career-high 12 homers, 21 steals and a .331 on-base percentage.

The deal would cap an eventful past few months as he also just got engaged.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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