Evan Longoria has wanted the Tampa Bay Rays to build a core for the foreseeable future. The Rays have started to take a step in that direction as they are nearing a long term extension with Kevin Kiermaier.
One could forgive Evan Longoria for his frustrations with the Tampa Bay Rays constant rebuilding. As the one player who has stayed, he has seen virtually every other player depart the team in a never ending series of cost cutting moves and trades for prospects. At some point, the Rays would need to build a core around their franchise icon.
The beginnings of that core may be shaping up. Chris Archer is already locked in for the rest of the decade, and has established himself as the Rays ace. And now, another piece to that puzzle may be falling into place, as the Rays are reportedly close to signing Kevin Kiermaier to a long term extension.
Although specifics have yet to be verified, the deal is believed to be for at least six years with a total value of over $50 Million. This extension would also begin this season, and would replace the $2.975 Million contract he agreed to this offseason. It would certainly be quite the significant raise.
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Even with that hike in salary, this extension could prove to be a bargain for the Rays. Kiermaier may well be the best defensive player in the game, regardless of the position on the field. A two time Gold Glove winner, Kiermaier makes the impossible catch routine, covering enough ground where even the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park may appear small.
Kiermaier is also more than just a stellar outfield glove. He has displayed a great deal of potential on offense, although he has yet to have everything come together at the same time. Yet, at just 27 years old, his .246/.331/.410 batting line with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases may just be the beginning.
With this possible extension, it also appears as though the Rays are going back to the philosophy that made them successful at the beginning part of the decade. Instead of looking for power hitters and increasing their home run totals, the Rays are focusing on speed and defense once again. Kiermaier certainly provides both in abundance.
The Tampa Bay Rays may be putting together the next core as they look to contend. Inking Kevin Kiermaier to an extension would be a great step in that direction.