Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Rays have extended their franchise player through the next decade
The Rays already had Evan Longoria under contract through 2016 thanks to the most team-friendly deal in the game, but they've decided to one-up themselves and extend their franchise player through 2022 for $100 million. The deal also has an option for 2023, so by the time this is all over, Longoria will be a free agent for the first time at the age of 37.
There is obviously risk here for the Rays, who have more payroll constraints than many clubs. But thanks to the influx of money in the game -- around $50 million per team due to national television deals starting in 2014, the revenue-sharing system, regional television contracts -- even Tampa Bay can afford to hand out $100 million deals. There likely won't be many of those coming out of Florida, but it's easy to promise Longoria $17 million a season way before you have to thanks to all of this money that is not only out there, but has to be spent somewhere, lest the Player's Association come knocking at Tampa's door as they did Miami's. With spending on the draft and international free agency de-emphasized in the new collective bargaining agreement, it only makes sense to see that money funneled back into pre-existing major-league talent like Longoria.
This isn't similar to what the Phillies did with Ryan Howard, either, as Longoria's deal is for far less overall money, significantly fewer dollars per year, and is being directed at a superior athlete and talent. Throw in that inflation will only make those future seasons look better by the time the calendar gets to them, and there's absolutely no comparison of merit here to make.
Longoria decided to eliminate risk from his end, and chose financial security and a guarantee to remain in the organization that drafted him rather than wait for the greater dollars that would have come to him had he become a free agent in four years. Longoria could have had more, yes, but he also could have hurt himself enough to derail his career in the next four years, or could have found himself playing for an organization he might have enjoyed less. $100 million is no small sum of money, even if it's not the maximum Longoria could have received. It is almost assuredly higher than the low-end of what a Longoria deal would look like, were he to hurt himself seriously in the near-future. It's absolutely still team-friendly, but let's not act as if Longoria isn't getting anything out of it just because he could have had more.
This has implications for the Red Sox insofar as the Rays are in the American League East, but there's more to it than that. This deal should also serve as a reminder of why extending Dustin Pedroia isn't a bad idea. A player who wants to stay under contract with the organization, who might be willing to take less money overall in order to guarantee that happens? Stranger things have certainly happened, especially since we've seen Longoria do it twice now. If the Rays can afford to hand out a six-year extension for $100 million to their franchise player without crippling their franchise in the present or future, the Red Sox can certainly afford to swing something with their own.