Rays Extend Evan Longoria | The Process Report

Rays Extend Evan Longoria

Millions of Americans opened their wallets at retailers across the country this weekend in search of a deal. Today, Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg did the same. The team announced a six-year, $100 million extension with franchise player Evan Longoria, this morning. The remaining years of Longoria’s original contract are included in his new deal, effectively making it a 10-year pact worth $136 million, with a club option for 2023.

“We drafted Evan in 2006 with the belief that he and the organization would grow with each other and together accomplish great things,” said Sternberg.  “That is why the Rays and Evan signed a long-term contract in 2008, and it is why we are extending our commitments today.  Evan has clearly become a cornerstone player and a fixture in our organization.  We are proud of what we have accomplished these past seven years, and I expect the best is yet to come.”

Much like Longoria’s first deal (covering six years and worth $17.5 million guaranteed with three club options maxing the deal out at $44.5 million), there is plenty of questioning involved. It appears as if Longoria again left dollars on the table for financial security. The team is taking a risk by giving a player with more than 100 games missed over the last two seasons a nine-figure guarantee.

Longoria is one of the best players in the league when healthy.At an average annual value of just under $14 million, he could be a bargain for the next decade, even if he misses games or moves across the diamond as he ages. This is especially so when you consider the cost of wins on the open market. Essentially, the Rays are paying for a two-to-three win player for the duration of the contract.

“Evan has all of the attributes we seek in a player,” said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman.  “His determination and work ethic inspire others around him.  He is devoted to his craft and strives to improve himself every year, and he defines success in terms of team performance and achievement.  It’s exciting to know that Evan will be manning third base for the Rays for many years to come.”

Prior to last season, I declared he was the most important player in the league. I did so considering what he brings to the club, and how hard it would be to replace him. Unfortunately, we learned just how important he was after a torn hamstring limited him to just 74 games and required a minor procedure last week.

When he did play, Longoria was on pace for his best season, at least at the plate. He belted 31 extra-base hits in just 273 at-bats and reached base 37 percent of the time. Despite the loss of playing time, he was worth nearly three wins to the Rays in 2012. Considering he was worth nearly seven wins a year in each of his first four seasons, Longoria’s injury—and the lack of suitable a replacement—was a major factor in the team not reaching the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Once more, people will point to the money Longoria left on the table by foregoing another—and perhaps final— chance at cashing in on the open market. Instead of chasing money not promised to him, Longoria guaranteed himself at least $148 million as a professional baseball player. Not bad for someone who turned 27 last month.

For the Rays, it appears that a new day may be dawning. With increased national television money coming in 2014, and negotiations for a local television deal in the next few years, higher revenue streams may allow Tampa Bay additional payroll flexibility  And although the Rays might be few years away from their first $100 million payroll, their first $100 million man is signed, sealed, and delivered.

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