Ben Zobrist is "grateful" for five-year extension, calling it a "no-brainer"

23

April

Ben Zobrist said he was extremely grateful and excited over signing his five-year contract extension with the Rays, calling the deal a "no-brainer."

The first three years of the extension are guaranteed, with the team holding options for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, covering Zobrist's first two years of free agency. Agent Bobby Witt said Zobrist will receive $18 million guaranteed through 2013,  with the club options for $7 million in 2014 and $7.5 million in 2015.

"I'm just extremely grateful," he said. "I got my first shot in the big leagues with the Rays and the Rays gave that to me. I think back to that time, how far we’ve come in the last couple years, and just the excitement for me and my family." 

Zobrist, 28, was named the Rays 2009 MVP by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America after he hit .297 with 27 homers, 91 RBI and 17 steals. It was on the final days of last season when Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said he first broached the subject of a long-term deal with Zobrist; subsequent talks occured during the winter, and they heated up during spring training.

"In every aspect of the game, Ben has become one of our most important players," Friedman said. "He works hard, plays the game right and is exactly the kind of player and person we want as part of this organization."

Zobrist's family, his wife, Julianna, and son, Zion, were in attendance at the press conference, and he thanked them for their support, as well as his teammates, coaches and Rays fans.  He said there is "no better clubhouse atmosphere" and that was a big factor in the decision to sign long-term.

"This is a dream that a lot of players would love to do in their career," Zobrist said. "It was definitely a career goal of mine to be able to stay somewhere for an extended period of time. For Tampa Bay to be that place for us, it was a no-brainer. We wanted to be here, we love it here. We love the community."

[Last modified: Sunday, May 23, 2010 12:15am]

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