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November 26, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Rays Go Longer On Longo

by R.J. Anderson

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TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Re-signed 3B-R Evan Longoria to a six-year contract extension worth $100 million, beginning in 2017, with a club option for the 2023 season. [11/26]

The best story about Longoria’s first extension involves Eric Hinske. Legend has it that Hinske, who signed his own team-friendly extension early in his career, advised Longoria not to “pass up the chance to make your first fortune.” Word has yet to arise on whether Andrew Friedman flew Hinske, now a free agent, into town to talk to Longoria about making his second fortune. At any rate, Longoria has agreed to trade earning potential in exchange for security.

There is a considerable amount of risk involved anytime a team signs a player for another decade. Attrition and injuries happen to the best of them. Longoria knows this as well as anyone. He missed more than three months last season thanks to a bum hamstring. Just last week Longoria underwent a minor surgery on that hamstring. In the past, the man called “El Pingo” by locals has made two other trips to the disabled list: once in 2011 because of an oblique strain, and another time in 2008 because of a fractured ulna bone in his right wrist. Factor in offseason surgery last year, to correct his Morton’s neuroma, and Longoria and the team doctor are on a first-name basis.

But as the Rays know about Longoria’s health, they know about his off-the-field endeavors too, and they know what he brings to the club. When healthy, Longoria is one of the best players in the league. His hands are his best asset—at the plate and in the field—and his hands still work just fine. The Rays couldn’t bring themselves to pass up the chance to lock down Longoria, potentially through his age-37 season, at a reduced rate compared to other extensions-on-top-of-extensions: Ryan Braun signed for five years and $105 million in 2011; Longoria’s former collegiate teammate Troy Tulowitzki signed a 10-year, $160 million pact months earlier. Longoria’s deal is cheaper than both—in fact, he will not make more than $12 million in a season until 2017 at the earliest.

By going longer on Longoria, the Rays are betting on their ability to increase their revenue streams. The new league-wide cash windfall helps. So will a new local television deal, as their current one expires in the coming years. Then there’s the stadium issue, which at some point between now and the end of Longoria’s deal should be resolved. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Tampa Bay Rays,  Evan Longoria

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