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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