Friedman makes another shrewd move locking up Longoria
While salaries around baseball continue to rise, the Tampa Bay Rays have once again found a way to sign a significant player to a well below market deal. They locked up 3B Evan Longoria for the next 10 seasons at a the bargain price of $136 Million. While the amount of years and the total dollar amount of $136M seems high, when you consider he’d be worth close to double that amount on the open market, it’s easy to see the Rays made a great deal.
TB’s GM Andrew Friedman has been proactive in buying out arbitration and early Free Agent years of his young core players like Longoria, Matt Moore, James Shields, Ben Zobrist, etc. Part of Friedman’s M.O. is to add extremely team-friendly, team-options to the end of these deals. He did exactly that with Longoria shortly after making his MLB debut which is why the team had options on Longo for 2014($7.5m), 15 (11m) & 16 (11.5m). Without those options, he would have been a Free Agent after the 2014 season at the age of 29. Looking at the recent deals given to Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto & Albert Pujols – all of them got between $20-24 Million per year for between 7-10 years. Besides the fact that Longoria will only make an average of $13.6M over the next 10 yrs, he’s also only signed through his age 36 season with yet another team option for his age 37-season for just $8M.
Of course there is some risk since Longoria has missed significant time over the last 2 seasons. But those were separate incidents and TB is such a better team when he’s on the field, the risk is worth it. The contract is also so below-market, the Rays will have no trouble trading Longoria down the road if they so choose.
Tampa continues to sign their core players to reasonable deals by locking them up before they hit the open market. They see the trend in the game with more and more teams signing lucrative TV deals and becoming bidders on Free Agents. The bottom line is, if you are a team with a star player, you’d better be prepared to pay through the nose if you let that player hit the open market. Unfortunately, the Yankees have not been smart with their star player and will either pay way too much for Robinson Cano next yr or watch him walk away for nothing in return.
The time to approach Cano about an extension was last season as I wrote about here. In one of Cashman’s shrewdest moves as GM, he locked up Cano early in his career with 2 team options for 2012 and 13. Had Cash offered Cano a Longoria-like 6 or 7 year extension at $20M+, the Yanks would have him locked up only to his age 35-36 seasons. By waiting til he’s a FA, he’ll get more money, more years and will be locked up til he’s 38 or older either by the Yankees or someone else.