DENVER (AP) — The hometown kid will be staying right at home to pitch for the Colorado Rockies.
Denver native Kyle Freeland and the Rockies agreed Tuesday to a $64.5 million, five-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing that had been scheduled for May 24.
“We have been in talks with Kyle for a long time and are glad to finalize this deal that secures his future in Denver,” Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt said in a statement. “Kyle has been a steady part of this rotation since his debut and we are excited to have him in a Rockies uniform for at least the next five seasons.”
The left-handed Freeland has always thrived in the thin air of the Mile High City. That was readily apparent in 2018, when he went 10-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 15 starts at Coors Field.
“He’s pitching well here. He’s comfortable here,” Rockies manager Bud Black said Tuesday before Freeland was slated to start against the Philadelphia Phillies. “There’s something to growing up here. … It doesn’t bother him. I’ve seen pitchers in my career be bothered by it. He’s not.”
Freeland’s crowning moment to date may have been leading the Rockies to an NL wild-card win over Chicago at Wrigley Field in ’18. He went 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out six during a game Colorado won 2-1 in 13 innings.
“That game tells you a lot about Kyle — playoff game on the road. Historic ballpark. Good team, playoff team, and he pitches wonderfully through six innings,” Black said. “That epitomizes, in a nutshell, Kyle Freeland.”
Freeland, who turns 29 on May 14, gets $7 million this season, $10.5 million in 2023, $15 million in 2024, and $16 million each in 2025 and 2026. He has a $17 million conditional player option for 2027, which he could exercise if he pitches 170 or more innings in 2026.
In addition, if Freeland finishes among the top five in Cy Young Award voting in any season from 2022 to 2024, he would have the right to opt-out of the deal after the 2024 season and become a free agent.
Freeland had asked for a raise from $5,025,000 to $7.8 million and had been offered $6,425,000.
He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.
Freeland’s deal is the largest for a Rockies pitcher since Mike Hampton’s $121 million, eight-year contract before the 2001 season.
Freeland is 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in two starts this season and 40-42 with a 4.28 ERA in six seasons. He was fourth in Cy Young voting in 2018 when he went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA.
Originally drafted by the Phillies out of Thomas Jefferson High School in the 35th round in 2011, Freeland went to the University of Evansville. He was selected by the Rockies in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Freeland made his major-league debut on April 7, 2017, at Coors Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He threw six innings, struck out six, and allowed one run to earn the win.
“Kyle’s a Rockie and he should be a Rockie for a long time,” Black said. “I’m thrilled for Kyle and his family. I’m thrilled for us. I’m thrilled for the fans. It’s a great day. It’s a great day in Denver for all of us.”
Twenty-two players remained scheduled for arbitration hearings from April 26 to June 24. Hearings normally take place during February but were delayed by Major League Baseball’s lockout.