Evan Longoria may be the most valuable player in baseball. A lot of that has to do with the contract he signed two weeks into his big league career. A contract that will pay him less in the next six years (~$28 million) than Alex Rodriguez will make in 2010 ($32 million).

But that contract is so good for the Rays, that it could lead to a scenario in which the Rays are forced to trade Longoria before the contract expires.

The flip side to the contract being valuable to the team, is that it is not valuable at all to the player. The Hardball Times calls Dirtbag’s contract “the worst contract in baseball.”

So the question bothering me is this: What in the world was Longoria thinking? From what point of view was getting just $17.5 million for his entire time under club control an acceptable decision? And what possessed him to give the Rays those options? Looking back, his deal just puzzles me. The easy answer, of course, is risk management. Lock in that one big payday so that, even in the event of a career-ending injury, you’re good to go. I get it. But isn’t that what Lloyd’s of London is for?

Of course, a injury could still happen, but in reality, how often do position players experience injuries that threaten their career or earning potential? For hitters, it is usually a matter of talent, and Longo has oodles of it.

What Longoria was thinking is no longer relevant. The important question now is: Will Longoria’s contract live to see the last 2-3 years? Might Longoria at some point sign with a real agent and demand to renegotiate his contract? It is rare in baseball, but that is because most baseball players are overpaid towards the end of their respective deals.

If Longoria demands to renegotiate, the Rays may be forced to trade him to a team that is willing to give him more money. So while we all assume that the Rays are set at the hot corner for the next seven years, that might not necessarily be true.

 
 

27 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    I’m a little puzzled by this post. Keeping great players is always hard for a small market team. If the Rays hadn’t signed Longo long term, he’d surely be gone at the end of the period of team control — or before that in a trade. I just don’t see any scenario that is better than this one for the Rays.

    • It’s a great deal for the Rays, no doubt. But there is a small chance that it is too good.

      I liken it to all the people that say they would play big league baseball for free. Sure they would, for about a year. Then they would see how
      much everybody else is making and how much the owners are making, and then they would want their cut. At some point Longoria may look around at what everybody else is making and see players that are lesser talents making a lot more money. And especially if those players are in the same clubhouse.

      This could also be a move that the union might push. This contract is a terrible precedent for other players.

      • Ben says:

        I totally understand what both sides are saying. And it comes down to how much Longoria appreciates playing for the Rays. If he does enjoy playing here 81 times a season, then he may not want to force a renegotiation which comes with a high chance of trade.

        However, on the flipside of that coin, there is still a possibility that he doesn’t enjoy and doesn’t want to stay here.

        From the Rays perspective: Just roll with it. Take care of him, and give him solid players around him to help him get a championship. In my opinion, he seems more of a “winning” motivated player than a “money” motivated player, with obvious overlap. That being said. The Ray’s goal should be to fill the roster with players that can help the team (and Longo) win a championship here in the Tampa/St. Pete area. Obviously within reason, and budget.

        Nothing would hurt the Ray’s fanbase more than losing Longoria at this point. And it seems that condition will only increase in the future, as he becomes more of a fan favorite and a franchise face.

        .

        Cheer hard for Longoria. Just remember the at bat where he hit the ball 500 feet about 5 times.

        • g major says:

          Ben: I’m trying to remember an at bat where Evan hit the ball about 500 feet once. Are you exaggerating or did I just miss it? The longest balls hit, fair or foul at the trop have run about 460+ feet and I’ve seen Gomes listed in that regard as well as Pena. I love Evan’s game, but I don’t view him as a guy who hits real long homeruns. Most of his homeruns are in the 350 to 400 foot range, not like some of the blasts we’ve seen from Arod, Manny, Poppy, Gomes, Huff, Pena. I’m at almost all the games and I do remember some of his clearing the centerfield fence, going about 420, but that’s it.

  2. Rob says:

    Slow news day, huh?

    • Just responding to what others are writing. And there have been several articles recently on Longo’s contract and how terrible it is for him or how great it is for the Rays. That’s got to be a little embarassing for him and especially his agent. And the union probably hates it. To just assume that Longo issuch a nice guy that he will never ask for a renogotiation or a trade is naive.

      • Rob says:

        I guess I don’t understand what there is to worry or think about. Only Evan can make an issue of it and no one knows how he feels. Unless you want to extrapilate this out and suggest that small market teams should lock up it’s young talent early and still pay them more? Which defeats the purpose. So, to me, there’s nothing to see here other than finding something to worry about that can’t be controlled, predicted or avoided.

        Not trying to give you a hard time. It’s just Tampa sports can be depressing enough, in general, and we don’t need to think of new things to fret over.

        • I’m not worried, and don’t think anybody else should be. I’m just responding to all the recent reports on how great the deal is (for the Rays) or how terrible it is (for Longo). My only point is that there is a chance that Longoria never sees the end of the contract. And if that happens, it was still a good deal, but not necessarily as good as many think.

          I liken it to Johan Santana. The Twins bought out two of his arbitration years with a deal that was very good for them (I think it was 4 years, less than $10m per season). But Santana never saw the 4th year of that deal. So we can’t just assume that Longoria will be at third base through at least 2016, which is part of the praise heaped on this deal.

  3. Michael says:

    “So the question bothering me is this: What in the world was Longoria thinking? From what point of view was getting just $17.5 million for his entire time under club control an acceptable decision?”

    This is just stupid. This is beyond 20/20 hindsight. We don’t even have to look at Rocco Baldelli or Eric Hinske to point out what can happen to make this look like a decent deal at the time from Longoria’s standpoint. Yes, Longoria was a talented rookie, but he signed the deal with only 1 week in the majors. There was plenty of risk from the Rays point of view. While Longoria was a consensus Top 5 prospect heading into that season, he wasn’t a clear #1 like Matt Weiters or Jay Bruce. Weiters didn’t set the world on fire and while I think the O’s would still be willing to gamble on a Longoria-esque contract for him and it wouldn’t be nearly the slam-dunk win for them that Longoria’s is. If the Reds had signed Jay Bruce to Longoria’s contract 1 week into his major league career the team would look downright retarded right now.

    I suppose the option years might have been overdoing it, but again, the team was assuming a decent amount of risk in guaranteed money while Longo was being set for life.

    As far as Longo eventually demanding a re-negotiation of his contract, I don’t see it. At least not until he’s into those option years, which is still four or more years away. And what can he do about it? Hold out? When was the last time a baseball player tried that? I can’t even remember and I don’t think it would work out all that great for him. He’d have to hope the Rays were willing to trade him for pennies on the dollar in order to just get something rather pay him nothing to sit out for the rest of his career.

    • Robert says:

      There were some rumblings that Halladay might hold out if he wasn’t traded this off-season. And if i remember correctly Jorge Cantu threatened to hold out with the Marlins last year

    • If Longoria switched agents to Scott Boras tomorrow, how long do you think Boras would let him play with that contract?

      • Michael says:

        Honestly, even if he hired Boras tomorrow I am 100% convinced he would play with the contract he has at least into those option years. He signed a guaranteed contract that’s good for the next 7 years. This is completely different from a recent draftee like J.D. Drew, Stephen Strasbourg, or Matt White who doesn’t have a contract yet and can re-enter the draft in a year. Longo honestly has almost zero leverage here. His only choice is to not play and not get paid until the deal runs out. Even then the Rays would probably still retain his rights — we don’t really know because I don’t think it’s ever happened before. Other than that, I guess he could try pulling a Manny Ramirez and act like such an idiot that the Rays tire of him. Does anyone think that would ever happen?

        Also, I don’t remember any rumblings about Halladay sitting out for a year and I do read MLBtraderumors.com frequently. That’s just making this up. He never demanded a trade from the Jays, he always stated he was happy in Toronto. At most he may have said something like “If they’re going to discuss trading me I want it done by X date so I can focus on pitching.” The Jays dealt him when they did because they felt like that was maximizing their return. How does Halladay holding out even make sense? His choices if not traded would have been 1) play for the Jays (which he stated many times he was happy to do) for ~$15 million or whatever and become a free agent after 2010 or 2) not play, make $0, and probably still have his rights retained by the Jays. In what scenario does not playing out his last year help his cause?

        Again, if Longoria demands his contract is re-negotiated and holds out until the Rays do, it will be a first for as long as I can remember.

        • I never said he would hold out. just that somewhere down the road he COULD ask to renogotiate or demand a trade if the deal is not renogiated. And if players have “zero leverage” then why do teams ever renogotiate deals?

    • Alex says:

      I think Logo was just as highly regarded as Weiters and even more so than Bruce. People here were chomping at the bit to see him. Scouts raved about him. I don’t know how you could say Longoria wasn’t as highly touted as Bruce or Weiters

      • Michael says:

        “I think Logo was just as highly regarded as Weiters and even more so than Bruce. People here were chomping at the bit to see him. Scouts raved about him. I don’t know how you could say Longoria wasn’t as highly touted as Bruce or Weiters”

        I know Baseball America isn’t completely infallible but they know a lot more about prospects and talk to more scouts than anyone who will ever post here. Their 2008 Top 100 Prospects Rankings had Jay Bruce #1 and Longoria #2. Jay Bruce also was the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year. Weiters was the 2009 #1 Prospect and 2008 Player of the Year. Call it splitting hairs but those are two distinctions Dirtbag never had coming into the Majors. Even if you want to say all three were regarded equally, the point is this: how would the Reds look today if they signed Bruce to the same deal as Longo after his first week in the big leagues?

        The point is you can’t say Longo is a total idiot for signing the deal he did knowing what we know now when 1) there was significant risk taken on the Rays part, 2) he did benefit substantially in locking up guaranteed millions for years to come, and 3) most importantly that other players in similar situations to Dirtbag have not enjoyed nearly the same results he has to date.

  4. Don says:

    This whole disscussion is a joke….Longo will make more in his career than 99.9% of all players playing today (pay + endorsements+ ads ect)
    It takes really peon mentality in saying “he could have got so much more money”…how much money does he need…Gee… Longo please try to get by with $17mil…till things get better…at least the morons won’t think you got screwed!

  5. mike says:

    why write this?? dirtbag makes a lot of money playing baseball in a great place for a great team. he will make millions more in endorsements (although you give him shit about it). his contract will pay him more than almost all of us will make in our lives. why are you starting this bs?

    • “his contract will pay him more than almost all of us will make in our lives.”

      what does that have to do with anything? you can say that about most professional athletes and yet everyday there are athletes asking for (and getting) raises. This is not about what Longoria can live with. For most of these athletes it is about respect and getting paid what they think they deserve.

      If you made $10 million for your boss all by yourself and he/she only paid you $500K would that bother you? You can live comfortably off of $500K. But why should you do all the work and your boss makes all the money? And what if you do twice as much work and bring in twice as much money as the guy sitting next to you, but for some reason your boss is paying him $1 million a year and he is still only paying you $500K? Again, you can live just fine off of $500K, but wouldn’t it bug you a little that you are twice as good an employee and yet the schmuck next to you makes twice as much as you do? Yes, that would bother you, because it shows that your boss doesn’t respect your work and what your provide.

      In the end, how much he makes is not relevant. And if the guy sitting next to him in the lockerroom is a shitty player and makes twice as much, that will bother him.

      As for the endorsements. I never gave Longo crap for getting endorsements. I gave him shit for using a ghost writer on Twitter. don’t put words in my mouth.

  6. It seems like every time the Rays get a decent player, the writers in Boston/New York/LA want to talk about when he’s going to leave the Rays. Just like with Crawford, we’re going to hear over and over again how Longo will jump ship and look good in Red Socks or Pinstripes.

    Since the Rays have Longo locked up, the only ammo these writers (and wanna be writers like them) have to go on is the fact that Longo could end up “unhappy.” Longo made the decision to forgo possible future “paydays” for long-term security. Plus, Longo will still be under 30 if he plays through this contract.

    The fact of the matter is the real losers in the long-term Longo deal is the fans of other teams who take a look at Longo and wish he were in their gear.

    • Longo may be perfectly content with that now. But will he regret the decision down the road? People make decisions they regret all the time. He wouldn’t be the first player to want to renegotiate a contract.

      • Michael says:

        Really? Can you name one *baseball* player that had a long-term contract in place and wanted it re-negotiated to the point of holding out?

        I remember strong disagreements between the Phillies and Ryan Howard on his arbitration value to the point where he considered sitting out, but he didn’t have a contract in place and it never happened. Same thing with Prince Fielder. A-Rod had a clause in his contract that allowed him to void his deal and become a free agent, then he went on to re-sign with the Yankees for more years and/or money. Manny Ramirez acted like an idiot until the Red Sox traded him because he wanted to have his option year declined and to become a free agent. That’s about as close as I can remember.

        Name one player who publicly stated that he would not play unless the contract he locked himself into were re-negotiated.

        • *face palm* Again, I never said he would hold out. And i never said he would demand to renogotiate right now or next year.

          • Michael says:

            “*face palm* Again, I never said he would hold out. And i never said he would demand to renogotiate right now or next year.”

            So what were you saying? What was the point of any of this? That in 2015 Longoria might ask the team if he can trade several more years of his free agency to re-do those option years at a more agreeable price, provided he continues to play at league MVP levels? Great, thanks for the insight.

          • I’m not sure why commenting on something that might happen 4 years down the road is so offensive to you.

            But no. What I am saying is that Longoria could demand to renogotiate the deal at $20 million per season or some other price the Rays will never be able to afford. He might then vow to not re-sign with the Rays. They may choose to trade him instead. My only point is that others keep commenting on the contract as a whole. I am just saying that like Johan Santana and others, Longoria may never see the end of this deal, so it is too early to speculate on how terrible it is for him.

  7. Michael says:

    Two final points I want to make on this and then I’ll shut up. First, I strongly disagree with the notion that this contract “could come back to haunt the Rays”. Yes, I can envision a scenario four years down the road when Longoria starts getting into those team options where he has had multiple Top 5 MVP finishes and Gold Gloves and he approaches the team about a re-working some of the numbers. However, there would have to be some benefit for the team in doing so other than just paying him more money for the same years. As in, a new 8-year deal that replaces the three option years at the same rate but locks him in for those additional five years. Something like that. Things might or might have to change for the Rays financially to be able to afford Longo if he were worth A-Rod or Pujols money, but that’s the only way I can see him getting something other than the agreed upon option salaries. I do not see him refusing to play for those dollar amounts and quitting baseball if he’s not traded or pulling a Man-Ram.

    Lastly, the only reason we’re even discussing his contract in this manner is that what he’s done so far is damn near unprecedented: unanimous AL Rookie of the Year, outstanding postseason performance his rookie year (well, not including the World Series), and a sophmore campaign that may have been even better with a Gold Glove Award and All Star appearance. This is like Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols-type stuff. And for every one of those guys there are multiple guys like Troy Tulowitzki who stumbled his second year then rebounded, or Eric Hinske that largely flamed out after winning Rookie of the Year, or Jay Bruce that had all the promise in the world but didn’t quite put it together.

    Yeah, we all hoped Longoria would be the second coming of Mike Schmidt but sometimes it’s almost hard to believe it has worked out this well so far. Let’s just enjoy watching him play for now and not worry about potential holdouts and trade demands 5 years down the road.

    • yes, it is called “renogotiating.” That means, you ask for something. the other side asks for something. you reach some sort of negotiated middle ground. if Longoria wanted more money, the assumption is that the Rays would want more years at the end. the scenario would probably be one in which Longoria was about to enter his option years. the Rays threw out the options and gave him a new 5-6 year deal. What? you have never seen that happen in baseball?

      But what happens if Longo wants $20 million per year for those 5-6 years? Or he demands that he gets a no trade clause added to the deal? Sure, the Rays could just say “suck it up,” and make him play with the options as is. But then they might have an unhappy player. one that vows to not re-sign with the Rays. Maybe that is OK for the Rays. Maybe not.

      And yes, it is unprecedented. Which is why the notion that the deal could be troublesome is also unprecedented. How often do young players get long-term deals and yet they are STILL significantly underpaid? Underpaid to the point that people are calling it the “worst contract in baseball.”

      And finally, I am not worried about it. Did i write this when he signed the deal? Did i just pull this topic out of my ass? No. Again, several other people wrote about the contract, and I simply mentioned that there is another angle that people are ignoring. Nothing more, nothing less.

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