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Rookie outfielder Desmond Jennings is one of baseball's young stars ready to take flight.
Unlike most of the Rays' talented young stars, Jennings isn't a pitcher. He's a wanted commodity in Tampa Bay, and he's a player the Rays really need to get a grip on.
In his hotly-anticipated 2011 rookie season, Jennings was everything the Rays expected and more. His great speed, defense and contact hitting were already acknowledged by scouts everywhere, but the electric power he displayed was a bit of a surprise.
Like fellow extension candidate Matt Joyce, Jennings is also a huge part of the team's future in the outfield. He is the complete package, and the Rays are really excited about this guy.
Considering how much the Rays would love to have a player like Jennings in their future, a long-term extension with him could be very possible. Jennings is under team control for six more seasons, which is good news.
Interestingly, Evan Longoria and Matt Moore are the only other Rays players ever to be extended for all six years of their team control. Longoria was guaranteed six seasons and Moore was guaranteed five.
Both were given three years of club options. The reason for the Rays' larger commitment towards Longoria is because Moore (being a pitcher) is at a higher risk for injury.
If the Rays decide to offer Jennings a contract extension, it will probably be more like Moore's.
The reason for this is that the 25-year-old has already experienced a number of injuries in his professional career. Jennings' health issues are obviously something that will go against his chances of an extension.
However, the likelihood of B.J. Upton leaving the Rays next year definitely favors a long-term deal for Jennings.
At the end of the day, I think it's a no-brainer to extend Jennings' contract. We're talking about the future leadoff hitter of the team here, and someone who I believe will be essential to the Rays offense in the coming years.
Locking up Jennings for the long-term will come with a price, but it's well worth the money.