DENVER | The leadoff hitter extraordinaire with the ragged beard and impressive mullet will be patrolling the Colorado Rockies outfield for quite some time.
NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon made a long-term commitment Wednesday rather than test the free-agent market next offseason, agreeing to a contract that guarantees him $108 million over six seasons.
In January, the two-time All-Star center fielder had agreed to a $14 million, one-year deal. The new agreement announced in San Diego, where the Rockies are playing a four-game series with the Padres, calls for a $2 million signing bonus payable within 30 days of the deal’s approval by the commissioner’s office, a $12 million salary this year and $21 million in each of the next three seasons.
Blackmon has player options of $21 million for 2022 and $10 million for 2023, and his 2023 salary can escalate up to $5 million based on plate appearances in 2022: $500,000 each for 400, 425, 450, 475, 500 and 525, and $1 million apiece for 550 and 575.
His 2023 salary would increase by $2 million if he is among the top three in MVP voting from 2018-22 and by $1 million if he finishes fourth or fifth. The 2023 salary is capped at $18 million.
The deal follows an offseason in which many top free agents struggled to find lucrative long-term contracts.
Blackmon is coming off one of the best seasons ever for a leadoff hitter. His 102 RBIs while hitting in the top spot was a major league record, surpassing the mark of 100 set by Darin Erstad of the Angels in 2000. Blackmon’s 383 total bases from the leadoff spot in 2017 also were the most all-time.
The 31-year-old Blackmon has started this season on a torrid pace — hitting .316 with four homers and 16 RBIs. He also made a splendid catch the other day in San Diego to thwart a big inning.
He’s known for being goofy, inquisitive and even a tad bit forgetful. He once tested the limits of the gas gauge on his Jeep Cherokee and ran out of fuel in the process, leading teammate DJ LeMahieu to help him out. Third baseman Nolan Arenado once recounted a tale about how they carpooled back from the airport after returning from a trip only for Blackmon to remember his car was still there.
That’s just Blackmon being Blackmon. He’s also one of the game’s top players.
In high school, Blackmon was also a left-handed pitcher and was picked by the Marlins in the 28th round of the 2004 draft. A year later, he was selected in the 20th round by the Red Sox after a season with Young Harris College in Georgia. He attended Georgia Tech, where he switched from the mound to outfielder full-time and was taken by the Rockies in the second round in 2008.
Over his big-league career, he’s hit .305 with 115 homers and 361 RBIs.
As part of the deal negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson, Blackmon can list 15 teams each season he can’t be traded to without his consent.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.