Rays lock Longoria up to potential 9yr/$44M deal

April 18, 2008 at 12:04 pm 6 comments

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(AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

The Rays locked up potentially their best player and franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to a 6-year deal for $17.5M and could be as much as a 9-year deal worth up to $44M. This deal covers all his arbitration years and potentially his first three years of free agency.

Here is the article from the AP:

Rookie third baseman Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed Friday to a $17.5 million, six-year contract, a deal that could be worth up to $44 million over nine seasons.

Tampa Bay has a club option for 2014 and a second option that covers 2015 and 2016.

Taken third overall in the 2006 amateur draft, Longoria appeared in just six major league game before agreeing to the deal.

The 22-year-old was brought up from Triple-A Durham last Saturday and made his big league debut that day. Because he was not on the major league roster for the first 13 days of the season, Longoria’s eligibility for free agency was pushed back an extra year until after the 2014 season.

The Rays have signed a number of their younger players to long-term deals, including right-hander James Shields, and outfielders Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli.

I assumed the Rays would lock him up before he reached arbitration so I wondered why he didn’t start the season with the Rays. I guess it makes a little bit of sense now. Those few days in the minors allowed for the Rays to claim the first 6 years of service time rather than 5 years of serive time, thus making this a potential 9 year deal for up to $44M rather than an 8 year deal for the same amount.

It makes sense although I didn’t see it that way in the beginning. I just assumed a 9 year deal is a 9 year deal but it makes about a $12-$15M difference just for letting him stay in AAA for 13 days. 6 of those 9 years are under the Rays control so this deal covers 3 years of free agency. If he started the year in the minors he would be eligible after 5 year and this deal would cover 4 years of free agency which would be an extra $12-$15M minimum in this market.

The Rays saved at least $1M for each day Longoria was in AAA. It turns out to be a very good business move and allows for Longoria to potentially be the best Rays player in their franchise history.

The only problem with this is I can’t wait to hear from all the players (I’m looking at you Prince Fielder and Cole Hamles, et al) whining about wanting an extension and complaining about their contract being renewed. We may see some very mad young players.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erik  |  April 18, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    The guy has played in the Majors for 6 days? I think this was rushed and well I think locking him up is great… I think this was a mistake! Let him prove he belongs and can hit Major League pitching and play the year before you sign him for this long. Yes it takes away his first 2 years of FA but damn…

    Reply
  • 2. Charlie Nehl  |  April 18, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve always thought it was a bit silly to lock up young players this early in to their career. What if they end up tanking? Ben McDonald had a really good rookie season, then fell into obscurity.

    I didn’t like the deals of Jose Reyes, and David Wright (although Wright will be a super star for years to come).

    Reply
  • 3. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 18, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    It takes away his first 3 years of free agency if the options are picked up.

    I personally like these deals for the small matket clubs. It is good press for them and it could save them money and if the deal goes sour they can bail out of the options. Besides, the way arbitration is going these deals could be the biggest bargains in the market when the time comes. The arbitors are awful and know nothing about baseball.

    Reply
  • 4. Charlie Nehl  |  April 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    i guess i see your point about small market teams jonathan. good call.

    Reply
  • 5. Erik  |  April 19, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Small market yes… mistake still yes… they could have at least waited until the guy had proved he was successful at the majors… at least until the all star break before they did this… Granted they got him on the cheap but still this is going to set precedence towards other highly touted rookies and soon you’ll see A-rod money going to kids that haven’t earned their stripes.

    It’s like the Yankees giving money to Brein Taylor, or the Cubs giving that money to Kevin Orie (sorry Charlie) this is a mistake.

    as for Reyes and Wright… They had to prove somewhat that they were capable before the Mets invested in them. Reyes more so had to prove he could stay healthy for a season… Wright just had to keep on going. Both of them deserved the contract after spending at least a season up with the big club before signing their contracts. Longoria 6 days…

    Is Longoria a special player… Probably… would I want him on a fantasy team… YES… Does he deserve that contract after 6 days… NO. Yes Tampa is small market… but what happens if he turns into Baldelli and has some injury? The Rays in 2010 you say Jonathan… Hope so… But if they make deals like this they are kind of hamstrung and can’t go after people… also with the New Baseball Network coming in 2009, there will be competitive balance again. And the small markets would compete with the bigger ones. Ah to see baseball players like endentured servants again to play for one team an entire career… Who are the last ones to do it? tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken… Can it happen again… I hope so… It allowed the fans to grow with the players.

    Reply
  • 6. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 19, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I totally see your side of the argument. I think any player at this point doesn’t “deserve” this money but like Andrew Friedman said the Rays have to be innovative because they are a small market team. I honestly don’t like high school kids like Porcello waiting til the 27th pick because he wants $7M in bonuses but it’s the name of the game and if you don’t want to play then you get left behind (like the Pirates not taking Wieter).

    Here is the breakdown of the deal according to tbo.com

    Year Salary

    2008$500,000

    2009$550,000

    2010$950,000

    2011$2-million

    (or $2.5-million if eligible

    for arbitration)

    2012$4.5-million

    2013$6-million

    2014*$7.5-million or

    $3-million buyout (or $4-million if arb eligble in 2011)

    2015*$11-million or $1-million buyout of joint option

    2016*$11.5-million

    (or up to $14-million, based on MVP voting)

    Longoria will donate up

    to $725,000 to the Rays Baseball Foundation

    * team options

    Reply

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