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Rays, Longoria reach deal - 9 years, $44-million



Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, left, and Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president for baseball operations, answer reporters' questions at a Tropicana Field news conference today after announcing Longoria's new contract. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Update, 2:36 p.m.:
Longoria's salary starts at $500,000 this season and maxes out at $11.5-million in his ninth season if the Rays pick up the option. The breakdown:
2008 - $500,000
2009 - $550,000
2010 - $950,000
2011 - $2-million
2012 - $4.5-million
2013 - $6-million
2014 - $7.5-million or $3-million buyout
2015 - $11-million or $1-million buyout of two-year option.
2016 - $11.5-million
Longoria will also donate up to $725,000 during the contract to the Rays Baseball Foundation.

The Rays have signed 3B Evan Longoria to a long-term deal that could be worth more than $44-million over nine years. The first six years are guaranteed for $17.5-million ($14.5-million in salary and a $3-million buyout on the first option) and the Rays hold a one-year option for 2014 and a two-year option for 2015-16, when Longoria would likely be a free agent for the first time.

"This signing further signifies our commitment to developing and retaining the nucleus that we have in place and reaching our ultimate goal of winning a championship,'' Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said at a 1 p.m. press conference at Tropicana Field. "And we feel like Evan is the kind of player and person that can help lead us to that goal.''

Longoria, 22, is considered among the game's elite prospects. He was called up last weekend, and has played just six major-league games, hitting .300. The deal is unusual, if not unprecedented, for a player with such little major-league experience, but Rays officials said it was in place and would have been announced even if he had not been called up from Triple-A.

There were questions raised when Longoria was sent to the minors during spring training if the Rays were more concerned with his arbitration or free-agency eligibilty, but they said at the time those were non-issues because they planned to pursue a long-term deal with him at some point.

"I'm really excited to be part of what's going on here,'' Longoria said.

Longoria, as other players in his situation, opted for the security of the long-term deal in exchange for the potential to earn more money in the future, especially during his arbitration-eligible seasons.
"Obviously that comes into the question, at the same time it's fair for what's going on right now,'' Longoria said. "If I want to play in a place that I enjoy, I'm willing to take whatever that little price cut or whatever to play somewhere I enjoy.''

The Rays are guaranteeing $17.5-million to a player who two years ago at this time was still in college and a week ago was in the minors. As for the risk? "Obviously with a guy that has seven days of (major-league) service, (it's) performance,''  Friedman said. "But, again, we believe in Evan as a person and as a player or we wouldn't do this.''

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:35am]


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