While it is still early in the season, the Rays’ 14-17 record makes fans wonder when the team will begin to turn things around and reach .500. The Rays have continued to count on key offensive players, like Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist, but their bats have not been able to win enough ball games after suffering several losses to opponents’ late-rallies. Many people ask if Wil Myers, the Rays’ top prospect, can lift the team to more wins. However, the Rays have many decisions to make before calling up Myers, including how to handle his contract.
The Rays have a few options when it comes to offering Myers a contract, and Jim Bowden from ESPN.com addressed this recently. According to Bowden, the Rays could call up Myers this season to help with their quest to return to the postseason or keep Myers in the minor leagues this season to save money. If the Rays wanted to call up Myers, they could go ahead and sign him to a long-term deal, which removes the cost of Myers being eligible for arbitration in the future, but offer him less money since he has not played in a single major league game. If the Rays decide to keep Myers with the Triple-A Durham Bulls all season, it delays them from having to pay him millions soon and gives them an extra year to have him under contract if they sign him next season. Myers is currently hitting .275 with 5 doubles, 3 homers, and 17 RBI in 28 games.
Bowden looked back at the contracts of Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and starting pitcher Matt Moore, who both signed long-term contracts in 2008 and 2011 shortly after their MLB debuts. Longoria played in only six major league games before signing a $17.5 million, six-year contract, while Moore posted a 2.89 ERA in only three appearances with the Rays before signing a five-year, $14 million contract. While Myers has yet to make his debut, Bowden thinks that the potential Myers has shown proves that he deserves the same type of contracts that Longoria and Moore received.
“Myers has that kind of talent and deserves the same kind of approach. His bat speed, path to the ball and loud sweet spot contact the other way are elite. Everything he’s done to this point projects him as an impact run producer,” Bowden said.
However, if the Rays do not sign Myers to a long-term contract early in his big league career, Myers could possibly make millions off of arbitration if he qualifies as a “Super Two.” Bowden explains a “Super Two” as “a player with at least two years of service time but less than three is eligible for arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and ranks in the top 22 percent in total service in the two-to-three class. In other words, a Super Two earns a fourth year of arbitration in addition to the customary three.”
If Myers lives up to the expectations people have placed on him, he will become the Rays’ next star and significantly augment their lineup. With this success comes a high price tag that the Rays cannot afford, unless they sign Myers to a contract early in his career for a lower amount. While Myers deserves a contract that reflects how much his talent his worth, the Rays must look out for their financial interests, considering Myers has not had a chance to live up to the hype and the Rays’ pockets are not as deep as other ball clubs. Other factors, such as injuries, could also keep Myers’ career from taking off like expected.
Although the Rays and their fans want to see Myers perform well and soon at the Trop, some very calculated decisions need to be made about how ready he is to play in the big leagues and how much money the Rays are willing to dish out for him. Will an extension be the final push that brings him to the major leagues.