- Dan Szymborski, ESPN Insider
If you are a fan of one of 29 franchises in baseball, Nov. 26, 2012, will go down as a sad one in your history of being a baseball fan. It was the day that you saw your dreams of watching your favorite team acquire peak-year Evan Longoria circle down the drain.
For fans of the 30th franchise, the Tampa Bay Rays, Monday afternoon was quite a bit brighter, like your birthday, multiplied by Thanksgiving, to the power of that day you found $20 bucks in the laundry. B.J. Upton is all but gone, James Shields is likely gone in the near future, but Evan Longoria, the crown jewel of the offense, is staying put.
The Rays signed Evan Longoria to a $100 million extension, keeping Longo from hitting free agency until at least the end of the 2022, which ends right around the time his birthday cake snags its 37th candle.
Longoria's first long-term deal with the Rays was an obvious coup. Even with the team having him under contract, the six-year, $17.5 million guaranteed and the three option years picked up as part of the extension (another $30 million) were a tremendous savings over what the team would have to pay him otherwise for that period. By Baseball Reference's reckoning, Longoria has 28.5 WAR through age 26, already essentially half the career of a player with a reasonable, though not a slam-dunk, Hall of Fame argument.
So, just how good is this contract? Obviously, it's unlikely to be quite the bonanza for the Rays as the first one, but even considering the fact that Longoria's coming off an injury-plagued season and there's substantial risk when it comes to projecting a player 10 years down the line, the Rays still pulled off a contract that's advantageous for the franchise's future.
Dan Szymborski uses the ZiPS projection system to determine the best long-term contracts in the game.