Evan Longoria has been the face of the Rays' franchise since his debut in 2008. Now, he'll continue to lead the club for another decade.
In an unexpected and uncharacteristic move, the Rays extended Longoria's contract through 2022 with a club option for 2023 (side note: when DON'T the Rays get a club option on a deal?).
The deal begins after the 2016 season, through which Longoria was already under contract, and is valued at $100 million, mirroring Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's recent extension, which was also for six years, $100 million.
“Evan has all of the attributes we seek in a player,” Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said in a team press release. “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.”
Longoria hit .289 with a .369 on-base percentage and 17 home runs during an injury-shortened 2012. All three Rays playoff appearances have come since he joined the team in 2008, including their only World Series berth in 2008.
The extension by the small market, budget-conscious Rays now puts even more pressure on the Mets to extend the face of THEIR franchise, David Wright. Negotiations are ongoing, with the six-year, $100 million framework seeming to be the market for top-of-the-line third basemen.
Longoria, 27, will be 31 when the new deal begins, the same age Wright will be at the start of 2014 when any new extension would likely start.
The two third baseman have had strikingly similar careers. Both hit 130 home runs through their first five seasons, with Wright posting a .921 on-base plus slugging percentage and Longoria an .877 OPS. Wright was worth 29.8 WAR during his first five seasons, while Longoria has been worth 29.3 WAR so far.
Longoria has been a better fielder than Wright, with a career 15.1 UZR/150 to Wright's -1.7 UZR/150. UZR/150 is a stat that measures a player's ability to get to balls hit in his zone over an avaerage of 150 games.
If the Mets fail to extend Wright, the question is going to be: how does a small-market team which rarely is able to retain its own free agents capable of extending Longoria while the Mets, who play in New York, aren't able to keep Wright? The Rays entered the 2012 season with a salary just north of $64 million, sixth lowest in the majors, according to USA Today. The Mets, meanwhile, posted a salary just over $93 million, 14th in MLB. And the team hasn't made any major expenditures this offseason.
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