Rays Sign Ben Zobrist To Extension

The Rays officially signed Ben Zobrist to a three-year contract extension that includes two club options today. The deal buys out Zobrist's three arbitration seasons for $14.5MM, and the options would pay him $7MM in 2014 ($2.5MM buyout) and $7.5MM in 2015 ($500K buyout), his first two years of free agent eligibility. The extension also includes a signing bonus of just under $562K, bringing his 2010 salary to an even $1MM and the total value of the contract up to nearly $30MM, if both options are exercised.

The 28-year-old switch-hitter enjoyed an MVP-caliber season in 2009, hitting .297/.405/.543 while playing nearly every position on the diamond — and playing them well, according to UZR/150. He would have earned about $438K this year before hitting arbitration for the first time in 2011.

As a point of comparison, teammate Evan Longoria will earn $12.5MM in his first three arbitration seasons and has club options that total $22.5MM in his first two years of free agency. Longoria's contract is widely considered one of the most team-friendly deals in the league, but if Zobrist continues to perform like he did in 2009, he'll be a bargain as well. Very good job of locking up a core player by the Rays.

Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times first reported the agreement, while Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune later tweeted the contract details.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


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65 Comments on "Rays Sign Ben Zobrist To Extension"


diesel2410
5 years 4 months ago

Good move Rays!

jwredsox
5 years 4 months ago

I’m still not sold on Zobrist sorry. And he has struggled this year (with exception to yesterday). Idk maybe it is just cause I’m a Red Sox fan lol.

TimotheusATL
5 years 4 months ago

You’re correct. The only reason you’re not sold on him is because you’re a Red Sox fan. How’s that full-time DH working out for you, by the way?

$1529282
5 years 4 months ago

Or it could be because Zobrist didn’t break out until age 28, and he hit more HRs in the Majors last year than he did over five minor league seasons and has gotten off to a terrible start to 2010.

…But yeah, it’s probably just because he’s a Red Sox fan with an aging DH on a bad contract. How’s Pat Burrell working out by the way?

TimotheusATL
5 years 4 months ago

Oh, Burrell has completely busted. And I’m a Braves fan, so I certainly don’t take that personally. I’m more worried about our own Mendoza-line offense trying to win every game with a 3-run homer.

As far as breaking out at age 28, who cares? Is 28-32 not largely considered to be the prime years of a career? They’ll have him locked up with cost certainty for all of the best years of his career, and even have the potential to avoid the inevitable decline. It’s a pretty brilliant signing with minimal risk, provided that they didn’t trip over themselves (which would be very unlike the TB front office).

5 years 4 months ago

Actually, the prime for hitters is generally considered to be 25-29, with age 27 being the peak year.

For fielders, primes generally happen earlier when they’re the most athletic, like the 21-25 age range.

jwredsox
5 years 4 months ago

K. Believe me, I’m hardly biased about other teams and I’m not like those Sox fans who probably got you all ticked off at the entire Nation. And what did calling out Ortiz have to do with Zobrist’s playing performance? Umadbro?

TimotheusATL
5 years 4 months ago

Heh, I just disagree with your assessment of Zobrist based on emotion. I’m a big fan of Lester, Beckett, Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Youk as ballplayers. Like I replied above, my overriding concern is that my Bravos couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat :)

buddaley
5 years 4 months ago

Zobrist has not struggled this year. He got at least one hit in each of his first 8 games including 3 doubles and 2 triples. At that point his line was .323/.364/.548. He then hit a 7 game slump which ended yesterday with a 3/5 day that included 2 doubles.

He has not been walking as he usually does, and while he is hitting for extra base power, they are not home runs. He is also striking out considerably more often than his norm. But it is hardly accurate to say, after 16 games during which he endured one 7 game stretch of poor hitting, that he has struggled.

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

A 7-game slump isn’t struggling?

buddaley
5 years 4 months ago

Not in the context of the statement which states that he got off to a terrible start this year (he actually got off to a very good start) and implies that means his breakout last year was a fluke.

I am not convinced his break out was entirely for real, although I do think he will continue to be a solid player for a while. But regardless, an 8 game solid start followed by a 7 game slump and then a fine game is hardly evidence that he is struggling or that his 2009 was a fluke.

I do think that remarking on his declining BBs and increasing Ks might be a valid reason for concern, but even that is essentially meaningless over 62 or so ABs. If the point was merely to say that he was struggling over 7 games, I would have no quarrel, but to extrapolate from it that he is struggling to remain a good player is not good reasoning.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

I believe his breakout was a fluke; however, I think he’ll still put up solid numbers… maybe (.270, 15 HRS, 68 RBI, 17 SB, 71 BBs)… and that, coupled with his versatility, will be enough to justify this contract, without too much of a fuss.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

I believe his breakout was a fluke; however, I think he’ll still put up solid numbers… maybe (.270, 15 HRS, 68 RBI, 17 SB, 71 BBs)… and that, coupled with his versatility, will be enough to justify this contract, without too much of a fuss.

buddaley
5 years 4 months ago

Zobrist has not struggled this year. He got at least one hit in each of his first 8 games including 3 doubles and 2 triples. His line at that point was .323/.364/.548.

He then went into a 7 game slump that, given the number of PAs, dramatically decreased that line. In the 8th game yesterday he went 3/5 with 2 more doubles, a walk and no Ks.

It is true that he has not been walking as much as usual and is striking out more often. And although he is hitting for power, it is not for home runs. But after 16 games it is misleading, or at least premature, to say his early season performance demonstrates that he is struggling.

dylanp5030
5 years 4 months ago

Good for Zobie. Gotta love him. An “Everyday Utility Player.”

5 years 4 months ago

This is a great deal for the Rays and it gives Zobrist security.

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

The rays look to have prehaps the top 5 starters in the majors. Of course they are all very young but the talent goes deep. I would not be suprised to see the Rays give the yankees a battle. The red sox have seen better days.

$1529282
5 years 4 months ago

Considering he spent over half the season playing middle infield with good defensive numbers and phenomenal power numbers (for a MI), I’d say the “MVP Caliber” description is accurate.

If anything, his season last year was superior to Pedroia’s MVP season. Better OBP, better slugging, better power numbers, more positional flexibility. I’d say it was certainly an MVP-caliber season… even if I think it was a fluke, which I do.

Piccamo
5 years 4 months ago

It was definitely an MVP caliber season.

5 years 4 months ago

It wasn’t MVP caliber? He freaking led all position players in WAR.

A plus defensive 2B with a .405 OBP, plus power, good speed and the versatility to play pretty much anywhere?

I don’t know about you guys, but I’d argue that Zobrist is one of the better players in the game, a solid 3.5-4.0 WAR player even if he never repeats his 8.3 WAR from last season.

UTSeminole
5 years 4 months ago

Randy Winn had a higher WAR than Adam Dunn last year. It’s pretty clear Dunn has more value…

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

WAR makes me vomit.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

Jimmy Rollins won the 2007 NL MVP with a .296/.344/.531 slash line from a middle infield position. He took home the hardware over such “big offense” guys like Matt Holliday, Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard, presumably because his offense came from a position on the field not known to produce at the level that he did. Rollins also was perceived to have fielded his position very well. MVP votes are all about perception at the time of voting. Zobrist suffered from not being on a playoff team and not being a household name. Also, the guy who came in second place in last year’s voting, Mark Teixeira, had a .292 BA with the exact same OPS as Zobrist. I’d absolutely say Zobrist’s 2009 season was MVP caliber.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

Average is the most useless stat when looking at how good a hitter is. Actually, it’s better than sacrifice flies…

With Zobrist’s excellent defense and very good offensive numbers he most definitely should have been top 10 for MVP, but not top 5. He had a close to a .950 OPS, that’s MVP-ish to me.

jwsox
5 years 4 months ago

didnt rollins hit 30 hrs that year and steal a lot of bases that year as well?

nhsox
5 years 4 months ago

“MVP votes are all about perception at the time of voting. Zobrist suffered from not being on a playoff team and not being a household name. Also, the guy who came in second place in last year’s voting, Mark Teixeira, had a .292 BA with the exact same OPS as Zobrist. I’d absolutely say Zobrist’s 2009 season was MVP caliber.”

It seems that you are saying that value essentially equals slash stats and what fangraphs’ metrics spit out for WAR. What about helping teams win games to get to the playoffs? How about scoring runs, or driving in runs? The guy is great defensively and had a pretty good year at the plate, but with nothing on the line, you can’t reasonably say that he provided the most value to his team than any other player in the Major Leagues. I have nothing against the guy, but there is no way that he is worth as much to his team as Albert Pujols, who I believe he beat out for WAR last season. Guys like Zobrist and JD Drew are examples of how fangraphs methods have failed.

Value should be derived by how irreplaceable one’s PRODUCTION is. i.e. how many games one ACTUALLY won for their team as opposed to how many games they would have won for their team in a vacuum according to fangraphs.com. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy mlbtr and fangraphs and even reporters who love new statistical metrics. But seriously, they are not infallible. Think about what players actually DID to help their teams before you make statements like “Ben Zobrist had an MVP quality season”.

jwsox
5 years 4 months ago

Just so everyone calms down MVP Caliber season and MVP season are not the same thing….Think about it when the MVP is voted on there are what 10-15 guys who get votes and there are always 2-3 that truly deserve it. Yeah he may have had MVP caliber season but anyone who his close to .300 with close to 30 hrs play good if not great defense at almost every position on the diamond yes is an MVP caliber season but not an MVP season there is a difference

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, he hit 30 HR’s to Zobrist’s 27, which is a nominal difference and at face value one might attribute it to the bandbox the Phillies play in. Rollins stole 41 bases to Zobrist’s 17. Zobrist more than made up for that with his otherwise superior numbers across the board.

Ferrariman
5 years 4 months ago

but j-roll WON THE MVP AWARD-AS IN FINISHED IN FIRST PLACE. zobrist was a 9th place finisher, which means he had a very good season, but not spectacular. no one is saying zobrist if going to be the next albert pujols or anything, just an above average player overall and a wellabove average middle infielder.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

I would argue that “Game-Winning RBI” is a more useful stat than sacrifice flies but less useful than BA :)

5 years 4 months ago

Yes and no (with more “no”). While I agree it’s not a useless stat, it’s far from being the best–but more importantly, it a hitter can’t be judged on his BA alone. I think OPS is the best stat for judging a player because it identifies a player’s patience at the plate and his apt for power.

A dinky singles hitter could have a higher BA than a guy who hits doubles and home runs, but that doesn’t make him a better hitter.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

You know a guy can be hitting .300 and still have a .300 on base percentage. Of course no one goes a season without walk, but there are people like Olivo, B. Molina, Guzman who walk>20 times a year. Average is almost the single most hollow stat there is out there, maybe besides just wins. A MUCH better way to judge a hitter is their OBP and Slugging percentage. Who cares if a guy is hitting .300 if he only has a .330 OBP and .375 slugging percentage. Would you rather have this awesome .300 hitter or a guy who hits .260/.375/.500? If you even consider taking the first guy you are a fool.

Also, i said should definitely be top 10, which he should. You said a .297 average does not garner MVP consideration. Judging him by his .297 average instead of stellar defense and .950 OPS is just flat out wrong. I didn’t back up your point in any way.

5 years 4 months ago

That would be more descriptive of a “clutch hitter,” not a more general “hitter.”

5 years 4 months ago

Not when Winn is a fantastic defender and Dunn is arguably the worst defensive player in the game.

Dunn is probably more valuable than Winn, he’s probably a little better than UZR says and Winn is probably a little worse, but the point is that Dunn’s not nearly as valuable as he should be given his bat because he absolutely sucks as a defender.

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

Your argument just described Michael Cuddyer (minus maybe an extra defensive position).

And no, he did not have an MVP caliber season. He had a very good season, and was critical to the Twins, but not worthy of MVP consideration.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

When I said “numbers,” RBIs was not one them I was considering, and you shouldn’t either. Are you suggesting that Rollins’ 2007 was better than Zobrist’s 2009? The fact that there is even a debate legitimizes the notion that Zobrist’s 2009 was indeed “MVP caliber.”

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

Now you are using RBIs??? Come on man, those are completely lineup dependent, and don’t show you a hitters skills.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

You don’t think that those 139 runs were aided by batting leadoff in front of the best offense in the national league? Accumulating runs inherently relies primarily on two factors: how often you get on base and the ability of the hitters behind you to drive you in. Obviously, speed plays a role, but is not as significant as you might think seeing as Albert Pujols lead MLB in runs last season. Seeing as Zobrist had a better OBP, the part of the equation that he can control, he had a higher potential to score runs. The problem was that he batted out of the 1 or 2 spot in the order a grand total of 24 times. The guys batting 5-9 in a lineup are far less likely to drive you in than the guys batting 2-5, like Rollins was fortunate to have. The logic you are using in your argument is highly flawed and not backed up by data that is available. Rollins’ 2007 was a great season, don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying that Zobrist’s 2009 wasn’t that different.

jdub220
5 years 4 months ago

You have an easy stomach then.
WAR is a great stat, specially for comparison, because it’s used for both hitters and pitchers.

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

It’s also far from a perfect formula, especially when comparing two players of a different position.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

MVP voting is not a barometer for how good a player is, it’s a barometer for how good the sports writers think a player is. I don’t think I need to tell you that sportswriters are often clueless.

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

I watched every Rays game last year on the MLB package. I bet on the Rays the last three years to win the AL championship and the world series. Zobrist did have a break out year last year, and when the rays second baseman went down he switched to second. Zobrist has a good bat, and a rocket for an arm. I would not call him an MVP but he is very talented though kind of a late bloomer. While he had a minor slump over the last week or so he still has a quick bat and the numbers will indeed be there at the end of the year. In case no one has noticed watch a few rays games and check out there 5 man staff. The staff is very young, but the talent is very deep. They may have if not the best starting pitching,but at least it is close to the best.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

Andre Ethier would definitely like this comment :)

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

You realize that WAR adjusts for position? 1B are less valuable right away than catchers, simply because one players the harder position. Same thing with corner outfielders to center fielders, and middle infielders to corner infielders.

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

That’s the point. There’s some fairly subjective adjustments based on positions.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t think a single person (could have missed one or two) has said that Zobrist should have won the MVP. Alright, he did have have an MVP season by normal standards, but he surely should have finished top 10 like he did, and should have finished ahead of all but 2 or 3 other players.

Zobrist’s season was a wet dream for anyone who loves advanced statistics, because he really did it all. As time goes on season’s like his 2009 will start getting more and more appreciation, and in time could become MVP seasons. I don’t see this happening for a while, though.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

It’s able to compare players from different positions BECAUSE of the positional adjustment. If there was no positional adjustment your argument would make a good deal of sense. But because there is, it makes it easier to compare a right fielder’s WAR to a 3B’s WAR.

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

How can you tell me the +1 a C receives and -1 a 1B receives are objectively comparable? +1 and -1 for the respective positions could arguably be +0.5 and -1, since they’re based on subjective evaluations of “how tough it is to play the position”. It casts subjectivity into the formula, and thereby makes it less-than-objective.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

I get what you’re saying. What I’m telling you is that you are wrong. The two counting stats that you are basing your argument on are the two that are largely dependent on a hitter’s environment (the other players in his lineup and his position in that lineup). The statistics that we have that do not rely on a hitter’s environment (i.e. the % of PA a hitter got himself on base and the ratio of total bases to PA) are the ones that Zobrist comes out on top. As for your assertion regarding the “only real difference of hitting anywhere in the lineup,” I did a little analysis just for you. These number relate to 2009 AL averages. By spot in the lineup relating to the leadoff spot, here are the differences in R’s and RBI’s PER PLATE APPEARANCE:
R RBI
Batting 2nd -3.96% 25.34%
Batting 3rd -9.09% 47.21%
Batting 4th -6.12% 57.14%
Batting 5th -8.78% 46.63%
Batting 6th -12.84% 33.57%
Batting 7th -20.75% 29.49%
Batting 8th -20.06% 23.46%
Batting 9th -22.69% -2.15%

“The top just gets more at bats per game.” Incorrect

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

Because catching is harder than playing 1b. Playing CF is harder than playing LF. Playing SS is harder than playing 3B, etc…

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

You not getting what I’m saying.

How do you determine that C is “+2″ harder than 1B? Why not “+2.5″ or “+1.5″? Those values may as well have been pulled out of a hat.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

Although he did finish 21st in the voting!

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

No, I get exactly what you’re saying, but what I’m telling you is that it does not take a genius to realize that playing SS is harder than playing 3B, and playing C is harder than playing 1B. I don’t know exactly how they got each of those values, but I agree with all of them.

Why would you even suggest that they were just pulled out of a hat? Why not search online for the answer instead of making conjectures that make no sense?

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

A single 8th place and single 10th place vote. 27 players received votes. It’s not uncommon to be able to fill an All-Star team with vote-recipients – but I think we could all agree that “MVP Calibre” means a guy belongs on the short-list of finalists.

TwinsVet
5 years 4 months ago

I’ve read The Book, by Tom Tango. It drills way down into WAR. And it does what you do: it explains why different positions need different values, but nobody explains why those values are what they are.

So you’re telling me C is “+2″ more difficult than 1B? It’s not “+1.95″ or “+2.05″ more difficult? You agree that C is precisely a +1 position, SS/CF a +0.5, and -1.5 for DH?

I suggest you do some online research into subjective variables, and they way they undermine the objectivity of any formula built upon them.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

Dude, I’m with you on this one. I was just messing around. I’ve got a thread going above to prove it…

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

I’m curious, if Adam Dunn were strictly a DH, what effect would that have on his WAR? Would his WAR shoot sky high because he doesn’t have the ability to hurt the team in the field? Does it eliminate the positional adjustment altogether? Thought you might know…

jflaherty
5 years 4 months ago

It would definitely have a veryl positive impact on his value. I’m not sure exactly how to calculate it with total accuracy, but he would lose the ton of negative fielding runs and only gain the run penalty of being a DH vs. 1B/corner outfielder(which have the highest run penalty of the defensive positions to begin with).

jflaherty
5 years 4 months ago

It would have a very positive impact on his WAR value. He would lose all the negative fielding runs(and there are a lot) and only take the run penalty of being a DH vs. 1B/corner outfielder which have the highest run penalty of all the defensive positions anyway.

jflaherty
5 years 4 months ago

Also, sorry for the quasi-double post. I didn’t see anything originally.

jflaherty
5 years 4 months ago

I get what you’re saying. I think a better way to word it would be: I’d like to understand where these values come from rather than dismissing them entirely. That is a perfectly understandable question, but for what it’s worth, I think the values make sense.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

Did you even read what I wrote or did you just skip to the last sentence? Perhaps you missed that I equalized the results by comparing them on a per plate appearance basis. I know, it must’ve been tough since I capitalized that part of my post in anticipation that you would take it that way. My point was that a hitter’s spot in the lineup affects a lot more than just how many plate appearances they get. However, it is apparent that all of this is way over your head. You go ahead and keep evaluating players on R’s and RBI’s.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

You’re reaching now. Get at me when you can make a coherent argument based on fact without bringing up green skies and leprechauns.

nhsox
5 years 4 months ago

You are right, RBI shows a player’s offensive productivity along with runs scored.

Jason_F
5 years 4 months ago

“It seems that you are saying that value essentially equals slash stats and what fangraphs’ metrics spit out for WAR.”

That is not what I said at all and you missed the point completely. As a matter of fact, the whole thing started because one guy said that only offensive sluggers win the MVP nowadays. I countered with the fact that Jimmy Rollins won the MVP as recently as 2007 from a middle infield position with a very similar season. Also, I never once mentioned WAR. To say he had nothing on the line is ridiculous. The Rays were five games back of the wild card to begin September. Teams do not lay down for their opponents when they are that close.

BTW, tell me how you quantify how many games “one ACTUALLY won for their team?” Thanks for your rant on new metrics, but if you look back the only thing I mentioned were slash stats/OPS. If you are are trying to figure out what “players actually DID to help their teams,” then looking at runs scored and runs batted in are the worst measure of that because those counting stats rely heavily on what other hitters around you do and not your own actions. Check my comment about 5 or 6 posts up to see how greatly one’s spot in the batting order affects their R and RBI totals in the 2009 season.