- Jim Bowden, ESPN Insider
In 2011, Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Matt Moore and his electric left arm were lighting up the minor leagues. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Moore posted a combined 12-3 record with a 1.92 ERA and amassed a ridiculous 210 strikeouts in 155 innings.
If ever there was a super prospect, it was Moore.
With the Rays clinging to postseason hopes, they promoted Moore that September, and he contributed. He won his only start of the regular season and posted a 2.89 ERA in just three appearances. Perhaps Moore’s most impressive feat was winning Game 1 of the American League Division Series with a two-hit shutout over the Texas Rangers.
The win capped off a tremendous season for Moore, who subsequently signed a backloaded five-year deal worth $14 million, all this while he still was technically a rookie with just three regular-season appearances in the majors to his name. The Rays’ modus operandi regarding Moore aligned with what the Rays have now done twice -- lock up the young talent by buying out their arbitration years at a very club-friendly rate. They did this with third baseman Evan Longoria whose first extension in 2008 was a similar six-year, $17.5 million deal just a few weeks into his big league career.
So what happens when another top prospect comes along?