The term "Tampa Bay Ray for life" has more or less been made an impossibility by both the philosophy and financial limitations of baseball's little franchise that could.
Evan Longoria, however, was always the possible exception to the rule and it now appears he has a good shot at forever wearing that label. The Rays and their All-Star third baseman have come to agreement on an extension that will give Longoria an additional $100 million through 2022. An extra club option year could also keep him in a Tampa Bay uniform through 2023.
Longoria would turn 38 at the end of that 2023 season and while he could still have a few years of baseball ahead of him, it seems unlikely that they'll come in anything but a Tampa Bay cap (or wherever the franchise happens to be playing then).
That, of course, goes against a Rays philosophy that frowns toward writing big checks or falling too in love with your players, but GM Andrew Friedman's early gamble on Longoria's obvious talent made it possible to ignore those maxims. Longoria signed a six-year, $17.5 million contract in 2008 before ever appearing in a major-league game. The deal, combined with three club option years worth a total of $30 million, has made Longoria's deal far and away the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball and arguably professional sports.
"Evan has clearly become a cornerstone player and a fixture in our organization," Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. "We are proud of what we have accomplished these past seven years, and I expect the best is yet to come."
Longoria has one year remaining on that original six-year deal. The three years of team options following will bring Longoria's total paychecks to $47.5 million before this extension that will pay him a total of $100 million from 2017 to 2022. If Longoria and the Rays continue their mutual admiration society for the full term of this deal, the financial numbers will work out to be $147.5 million over 16 years. That's a lot of cheese for anyone and Longoria isn't likely to ever want for anything again.
But it's also a mere pittance when you compare it to the type of cash that other All-Star and MVP candidate types have made. For example, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki signed an extension in 2010 that gave him $157.5 million.
Longoria, though, has always said that he's happy to make the kind of money he's making and that he'd be crazy to ever complain about it. He's happy living in the Tampa Bay area and with the organization. Apparently so much so that he's willing to forgo any chance of a big free-agent payday while agreeing to a value-laden extension that will allow Friedman and the Rays to remain competitive and nimble under the realities of their market situation.
And, yes, he's still filthy rich no matter how you want to pit it and still has as much job security as the day he was called up to the big leagues. Good job for both sides.
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