Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Cautionary tales, conversations helped Evan Longoria decide to commit to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Evan Longoria had a number of reasons for agreeing to the six-year contract extension that could keep him with the Rays through 2023.

And more than just the 100 million dollars he'll make.

Grady Sizemore, Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez were a few.

All are players who looked at points in their careers to be on the same path to super-stardom as Longoria is now. All who, through injury or inconsistent performance, didn't quite get there, never cashed in with massive contracts and are now trying to extend their careers with year-to-year deals essentially as veteran journeymen.

And all who were examples agent Paul Cohen discussed with Longoria, 27, in deciding whether to take the Rays' deal at the potential loss of earning millions more by waiting for free agency, and the accompanying criticism.

"You just don't know what's going to happen," Cohen said. "Grady Sizemore, for a while, looked like the best player in the game. I have great admiration for Grady Sizemore. But now he's 30 and he's looking to make $1 million."

Troy Tulowitzki is another.

The Rockies shortstop, a close friend who was Longoria's roommate and teammate at Long Beach State, and also a Cohen client, was at a similar stage of his career when he agreed in November 2010 to a big-bucks long-term extension, getting $157 million over 10 years. (Tulowitzki, for what it's worth, missed most of this season with injury.)

"They talked," Cohen said. "I don't know if it was one percent, 10, 20, but it did have an impact."

So, too, it seemed, was Carl Crawford.

Though Longoria didn't mention his former teammate by name, he made several references to the cautionary tale of players leaving the Rays in search of better elsewhere and ending up unhappy.

"I've seen a lot of guys come in and out of here, and a lot of guys are disappointed when they leave and a lot of guys that have been here a long time express their interest in staying here and not wanting to be anywhere else," Longoria said.

And even Derek Jeter.

In stating his desire to stay with the Rays his entire career and become a "benchmark" player and a face of the franchise, Longoria was clearly referencing the Yankees captain.

"Guys now are few and far between playing their whole careers in places," Longoria said. "It has been important to me to kind of put roots down in one place and be in one place for a long time."

Cohen and Longoria discussed numerous scenarios from when the Rays first expressed their interest in an extension in February until it was consummated and announced Monday. The fact that Longoria was injured and sidelined for more than three of those months factored into his thinking as well.

Cohen said one of the concepts is based on how much of potential lifetime profit/earnings can be captured quickly. And this deal allowed Longoria, in addition to the $11 million he has already received and another $36.6 million already committed, to reap a large share.

"You've just turned 27 and you have a deal on the table that guarantees your earnings at that point to basically $150 million," Cohen said. "How many players get to that point?"

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

 
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