Saturday, December 11, 2010

Longoria Wants Rays to Make it Rain

The 2010-2011 free agent market has turned into a high class strip club.  The free agents are the strippers, and the owners/GMs are the patrons making it rain.  When average major league players like relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit gets 3 years $16M and utility infielder Juan Uribe gets 3 years $21M, it shouldn't be surprising that several non-free agents, like Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, also want a piece of the action. 
"Tampa Bay is the place I want to be for the rest of my career if I can," Longoria, 25, said. "If there's an opportunity to do something like that, I would think long and hard about it."
Though free agent prices are soaring, as evidenced by the $142 million that former teammate Carl Crawford got from the Red Sox, Longoria said he would be interested in an extension such as his friend Troy Tulo­witzki worked out to stay with the Rockies, albeit for $119 million covering six seasons.
In 2008, with only six days of major league service time, Longoria signed a 6 year $17.5M extension that included a $7.5M option for 2014 and matching $11.5M options for 2015 and 2016.  Considering the value Longoria has provided so far (19.6 WAR, $84.8M),* calling this contract "team friendly" might be the understatement of the decade.  So, yeah.  I'm not surprised he wants to rework his deal.

* Longoria made $2M total between 2008-2010.  

I think the Tulowitski contract extension Mark Topkin pointed to in his article is probably a good comparison for Longoria.  Longoria is only 25 years old, and looks as if he'll be one of the top players at his position for the next 7-10 seasons.  Like Tulowitski, he hits for power, average, gets on base, plays good defense, and runs the bases well.  If I were Longoria's agent, I would use Tulowitski's contract as the benchmark and move from there. 

That said, it's a little early to be talking about a contract extension for Longoria.  No?  He still has three guaranteed seasons remaining on his current deal, plus three very team friendly options.  Where's the Rays motivation to rework his deal?  They're getting a tremendous return on an incredibly talented player.  The money they save on Longoria's salary can be used to fill other holes around the diamond.  By signing Longoria to a larger extension (and presumably buying out his three option years), the small market Rays would likely have a much tougher time putting together a championship caliber team on the field during Longoria's prime seasons.  The Rays should use this situation to their advantage, not give it away.

When Longoria signed his contract extension in April of 2008, he took a huge risk.  On one hand, he assured himself of financial security and stability.  On the other hand, he greatly reduced his potential for maximizing his baseball related earnings.  For example, had he signed a contract right now, he could've looked forward to making $120M over the next six seasons rather than the $42M he'll probably make.

Hopefully, his agent made him aware of this risk when he signed the contract.  If not, Longoria should probably be in the market for a new agent.

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