Extension Candidate: Matt Joyce

Icon_7570143When it comes to signing young players to long-term contract extensions, no team has been as aggressive as the Rays in recent years. Left-hander Matt Moore became the latest to cash in when he signed a five-year, $14MM contract earlier this month despite having just 17 days of service time to his credit. Evan Longoria, James Shields, Ben Zobrist, and Wade Davis are also signed to similar contracts, and next in line could be outfielder Matt Joyce.

Joyce, 27, was acquired from the Tigers for Edwin Jackson three winters ago. The 2011 season was the first time he spent a full season in the Majors, and he rewarded the Rays by making the AL All-Star Team and hitting .277/.347/.478 with 19 homers and 13 steals. In 1,097 career plate appearances spread across 321 games (three games shy of two full seasons), Joyce is a .259/.345/.482 hitter with 64 doubles and 44 homers. The advanced metrics rate his corner outfield defense as a touch better than average.

Back in October, Tommy Rancel of ESPN Florida suggested that Zobrist's contract – four years, $18MM with two club options – could serve as a blueprint for a Joyce extension. Zobrist signed that deal one year before he was due to become arbitration-eligible, which is where Joyce is now. Zobrist was coming off an MVP caliber season (.297/.405/.543 with 27 homers) at the time though, and he offered much more defensive versatility. As a switch-hitter, he also didn't have the same platoon problem as Joyce, a left-handed bat with a .196/.280/.322 career line against southpaws. The blueprint could work, but the dollar figures will need some tweaking.

Unlike his teammates, Joyce could offer the club a true hometown discount since he grew up in the Tampa area. He also didn't receive a huge signing bonus as a 12th round pick in 2005, so getting some financial security at age 27 could be more appealing to him than most. The Rays love club options, so expect any deal with Joyce to contain a few of them, perhaps even as many as three. The Rays lost Carl Crawford to free agency last offseason and could lose B.J. Upton next offseason, but Joyce and fellow extension candidate Desmond Jennings form a solid outfield core going forward. One way or the other, Tampa controls the duo's contractual rights through 2015.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

18 Responses to Extension Candidate: Matt Joyce Leave a Reply

  1. diesel2410 4 years ago

    I’d like to see him play the next half of the season before they give an extension. He had a good year last year and hopefully it carries over.

    • If they wait he could get significantly more expensive.  If he starts out the season on fire and has another great first half, why would he sign for that much of a discount?  He will already be setting himself up to get paid in arb and will have one less season of team control.  The time to lock him up is now. 

  2. rjc 4 years ago

    I’d like to see those two months of magic he had last year for the entire season.  Until he can start hitting left handed pitching consistently, I might see what Guyer has to offer before locking up Joyce long term.  Lets get Jennings locked down for a few years first.

    • joeybw 4 years ago

      Nobody I’d like to sign more than Jennings…cept maybe Price but Desmond is represented by Boras.

    • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

      I’d like to see those two months of magic he had last year for the entire season.

      That’s what they were: magic. A .400+ BABIP will do that for you.

  3. joeybw 4 years ago

    I think he will be cheap and I saw an extension coming a long time ago. I wouldn’t bet against it getting done in January.

  4. joyce has a hole in his pants

  5. maybe now he’ll be able afford some new pants, without a hole.

  6. CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

    When the Matt Moore extension happened this is who I thought of. It took me like a full minute to figure out it was Moore and not Joyce who go the extension. I was kind of confused.

  7. Given his age, they should extend him for about 5 years and then let him go, like what they did with Zobrist.

  8. joeybw 4 years ago

    They should sign him in January, I think they will, because this year, he’s going from playing most lefties to playing all lefties and I think he’s gonna show Maddon and the front office that he should of been playing them all along. As of now, he would be really cheap, next year, he will be arbitration eligible and I think would of proved he can hit lefties.

  9. Joyce is a very underrated player.  I love the guy, he might not be as flashy as a Justin Upton, but he gets the job done.  Hits for good power, average and has a nice glove to boot.  If we can get him for 4yrs/$18MM that’s a bargain and a half!

  10. Oscar_Gambles_Hair 4 years ago

    Matt Joyce kind of reminds me of Adam Lind.

    Hope the Rays lock him up.

  11. MrSativa 4 years ago

    Too bad he can’t hit lefties. This will always keep him in the platoon position which means he’s in matchup hell with a manager like Maddon.

    • joeybw 4 years ago

      He played more lefties last year. Crushed some pitches from the lefty heavy Rangers in the playoffs and according to Maddon and Friedman, he’s playing them all this year. His days of platooning seem to be over which is not the best news for Brandon Guyer unless they just stick Joyce at DH but I doubt it, Damon really was the perfect fit for us.

  12. Fred_G_Sanford 4 years ago

    nah i would pass…not too big of a fan of ballplayers with girl names, first or last

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