Evan Longoria is going to spend his entire MLB career as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays announced that they have signed Longoria to a 10-year contract extension through 2022 with an option for 2023. The contract guarantees the next four years of Longoria’s contract, which had previously been options, while signing him for 100 million dollars for the subsequent 6 years. Longoria will make a total of 136 million dollars over the next 10 years not counting the option. This deal will take Longoria through at least his age 36 season. People were shocked when Longoria signed his first team-friendly deal when he arrived in the big leagues in 2008 but the rationale was that he was trading possible future salary for security. Now Longoria is showing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Tampa Bay is the place he wants to spend his entire career, agreeing to a deal far below his potential market value to stay with the Rays for the foreseeable future. On the Rays side, they’re willing to commit salary figures unheard of in their history- Longoria is set to break the Rays’ single season salary record in 2015 and could be breaking it several more times- because Longoria is just that special of a player.
“We drafted Evan in 2006 with the belief that he and the organization would grow with each other and together accomplish great things,” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. “That is why the Rays and Evan signed a long-term contract in 2008, and it is why we are extending our commitments today. Evan has clearly become a cornerstone player and a fixture in our organization. We are proud of what we have accomplished these past seven years, and I expect the best is yet to come.”
This deal certainly comes with risk- Longoria has missed much of the past two seasons with injuries- but the Rays clearly believe that the past two years were an aberration and Longoria can stay healthy and one of the best players in baseball moving forward. The past five years, Longoria has been incredible, posting a .276/.361/.516 line (137 OPS+) with 130 home runs and Gold Glove-worthy defense. He anchors the Rays lineup and does everything he possibly can to lead the team to victory. He exemplifies everything the Rays want from their players and every time the Rays succeed, he will be a principal reason why.
“Evan has all of the attributes we seek in a player,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “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.”
With B.J. Upton departing and trade rumors swirling around the most dependable pitcher in Rays history, James Shields, it began getting frustrating for Rays fans knowing that the Rays’ loyalty to their players had financial constraints. But Evan Longoria is the exception to that. The Rays can replace starting pitchers. They can replace enigmatic outfielders. But they can’t possibly replace Longoria, their leader and the heart and soul of their team. The Rays never commit to contracts of anywhere near this length. Did they let sentimentality get the best of them here? Absolutely not. You can’t quantify everything that Longoria gives the Rays and if you tried, he would be worth more. You can’t simply replace someone like that. The Rays can rest easy knowing that they won’t have to for a very long time.