Rays Lock Up Matt Moore

The Rays have authored another precedent-setting contract, locking up 22-year-old phenom Matt Moore for at least five years, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.  Moore has just 17 days of big league service time (plus ten innings in the postseason), but the Rays committed $14MM for Moore’s next five seasons.  The contract is reminiscent of the Rays’ April 2008 commitment to Evan Longoria, but is the first of its kind for a pitcher.  Moore’s guarantee is easily a record for a pitcher with less than a year’s service time, and it also tops any pitcher who signed with less than two years service.  The Rays have club options covering Moore’s third arbitration year and first two free agent years.  If those are exercised, the deal could be worth $37.5MM over eight years, and it could exceed $40MM with escalators.  Moore is represented by Matt Sosnick along with Jon Pridie and Adam Karon of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.


My take: the contract makes sense for both sides.  Moore is widely regarded as a future ace, with three plus pitches and a strikeout-heavy resume.  But as a player who signed for $115K after being drafted in the eighth round in 2007, the guaranteed money would have been difficult to turn down.  Though Longoria’s contract is considered the most team-friendly in baseball, it wasn’t without risk at the time it was signed.  That risk is heightened for the Rays since Moore is a pitcher.

The Rays are unlikely to lose money on Moore’s contract.  The worst case scenario is Moore missing significant time due to injury.  For example, Brett Anderson signed a deal with the Athletics for a $12.5MM guarantee with just one year of service.  With Anderson battling injuries since that deal was signed, the A’s might overpay by around $5MM for his first two arbitration years.  They retain club options on his third arbitration year and first free agent season and could still come out ahead, but Anderson probably does not regret the contract.  Sosnick Cobbe Sports has its own examples of “sure thing” starters whose careers were derailed, including Jesse Foppert and Dontrelle Willis.

Arbitration savings were a factor for the Rays, as paying $15MM for Moore’s three arbitration years could be a major bargain.  An ace like the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw could receive $8MM for his first arbitration year alone in 2012, and there’s no telling how high the bar will be three years from now, when Moore would have been eligible.  The Rays gain long-term cost certainty, something they lack with ace David Price.  Perhaps more crucial for Tampa Bay is having club options on each of Moore’s first two free agent seasons at $10MM, with aces such as Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander requiring $20MM for free agent years on multiyear deals signed later in their careers.  Getting three club options is a signature move for the Rays, as executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman accomplished the feat with previous deals for starters James Shields and Wade Davis.

Moore wasn’t going anywhere regardless of this contract, as he was under team control for a full six seasons.  Still, there was a chance the Rays would have held him in the minors for part of 2012 with the intent of controlling him for a seventh year or avoiding Super Two status.  This contract likely removes that scenario, making Moore a stronger candidate for the Rays’ Opening Day rotation and increasing the likelihood Shields, Davis, or Jeff Niemann is traded this offseason.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

106 Responses to Rays Lock Up Matt Moore Leave a Reply

  1. Cotes56 4 years ago

    Matt Moore, you should have learned from Longoria’s mistakes. Great move by the Rays. Moore’s agent should be fired immediately

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      I say great move!  What happens if he blows his arm out next yr and cant pitch, then comes back and has another injury, well at least he still gets 14mm. 

      But if he produces, now he is set up for a huge payday as a free agent going into his prime at age 28 or so.  Sounds like a win-win for Moore

      • nm344 4 years ago

        Wont be a free agent quite then, but he’ll get a respectable 10 Mil a year anyway.

        • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

          good call, I miscounted the yrs. 

          • STEVEBARTMAN_MVP 4 years ago

            He would only make approximately 1.2-1.5 million (new CBA increases minimum salary) in his first 3 years, whereas in this deal, they make him rich quicker.

            Probably a bad move by Moore, because of what could have been an arbitration payday in three years. (unlikely TB allows him to become super two without this deal)

            GENIUS move by Friedman.
            Seriously wanted him in Houston, but Luhnow will do a fine job.

          • tellrodt 4 years ago

            Hahaha, yea, he’s the man!  We love AF down her in the Greater Tampa Bay area.  The guy’s just a brilliant GM and the undoubted reason my Rays have had such success in recent years.  They should’ve made “moneyball” about Friedman hahaha.

          • Michael Moses 4 years ago

            they did, its called “the extra 2%”

    • nm344 4 years ago

      You should be fired from commenting immediately.  As a pitcher he’s one injury away from working at Walmart and he hasn’t made any money yet.

      • Cotes56 4 years ago

        There’s playing it safe, and then there’s locking yourself up through your age 22-30 seasons as a stud young ace for 37.5mil. That’s absurd

        • nm344 4 years ago

          Not quite.  Its called risk management.  He’s set for life now, even if he blows out his arm.

        • 0bsessions 4 years ago

          How will he live on such a meager wage?! Practically a pittance!

          You’re mistaking jealousy for a feeling of absurdity. Don’t worry, I’m jealous too.

          /compares this to John Lackey’s contract and cries

        • John McFadin 4 years ago

          Walt, you should just stop typing.  How horrible of Moore’s agent to get a deal for Moore where he becomes a millionaire and set for life.  Poor guy.

          • Amish_willy 4 years ago

            Exactly. He was three years away from earning 7-figures. He’s just guaranteed himself more money then Mark Prior earned in the big leagues.

            The Rays are so damn smart identifying their key guys and signing them. Not every deal will look incredible shortly down the road (Baldelli, maybe even Davis), but the risks are fairly small and those 2 FA years (at 10m a piece) could be worth a ton down the road. 

            A big part of the equation is how good they are developing high-end talent. I’m sure lots of teams would take similar approaches if they were in a position to do so.  

          • STEVEBARTMAN_MVP 4 years ago

            Not to mention he will still be eligible once or twice for arbitration after this deal is over. Gives Moore time to decide if he would rather go year to year for his last controllable years, instead of getting the big deal later.

            This would eat up his free agent years more than likely. In a way this is a smart deal for the agent and player because they afford themselves the opportunity to ensure financial security and evaluate the long term picture of the Rays.

          • uhh…no…he wont get arb after the deal…the rays have team options for years 6-8

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Mistakes? Longoria is making millions upon millions of dollars to play for a perennial contender and his willingness to play at well below market value while still making more than most of us will even see in our lifetimes allows his team to continue fielding a competitive team on a minuscule budget.

      I’ve made mistakes in my life as I’m sure we all have, but I have to imagine anyone here would kill for the opportunity to make that “mistake.”

      • bacboris 4 years ago

        So his upside, is that his ‘sacrifice’ goes to fielding a team which probably wont be around in a few years. A solid and rational argument. I get the risk analysis, but that’s why you only give up the arb years and maybe a mutual option on 1 FA year. Anything else is short-sighted and almost oblivious.

        Of course, I can only hope that my team uses this Rays/(90’s Indians) model and forces feed ‘loyalty’ and ‘competiveness’ to get their young guys to sign such ridiculous contracts. I mean that seriously, I just hope that these young players dont discriminate because of things like having a big market or fans that are willing to show up to the game.

    • Absolutely love this deal. Take a look MLB, this is how you do it

    • captainjeter 4 years ago

      agreed. Sure this is a great  move for the Rays. They  get to keep this kid for peanuts for several years.
      Either he is naive or his agent is plain stupid. No way he should have given up any of his free agency years unless he got blown  away by rhe Rays.
      14 million over 5 years? That is under 3 million per year. He  should have never signed unless they were willing to give him at least  twice (28 million) . I would never given up any of my free agency years  unless they offerd  me at least  35 million for  5  years.

      • John 4 years ago

        He was going to be earning only 500k per year for the next three years regardless. Now he’s making an average of 3million. Think about Mark Prior and his career. One of the best pitchers in baseball and injuries ruined his career before he started earning good money.

      • Yankees420 4 years ago

        “I would never given up any of my free agency years  unless they offerd  me at least  35 million for  5  years”


  2. Good for Moore. Well deserved after that postseason performance!

    • PS That’s super cheap!

      • Danthebaseballman 4 years ago

        Wow, this is crazy cheap

        • Lars Chunks 4 years ago

          Not really.  They’re basically just locking up his arbitration eligible years.  That’s a lot of guaranteed money for a pitcher who hasn’t even pitched a full year in the majors yet.

  3. Alex 4 years ago

    Good signing by the Rays, can’t fault them for locking up a great young pitcher to a team-friendly contract.

    • raffish 4 years ago

      I can only hope the M’s do this with their young guns.

  4. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    Have to love the aggressiveness of the Rays.

    For Moore it gives him plenty of security and if he does turn into the ace we all expect, he still hits free agency young enough to cash in a huge payday.

    • nm344 4 years ago

      Its how they have to operate with their Budget.

      • 0bsessions 4 years ago

        Still fascinating to watch play out. Friedman is a sorcerer. I may not be a Rays fan, but I’m certainly an Andrew Friedman fan. Sometimes I wish he’d bomb one of these just to prove he’s a mere mortal.

        • John McFadin 4 years ago

          Being a Rangers fan, I’m so incredibly happy he turned down the Astros job.  Let him keep being a thorn in the side of the AL East teams.  Although I can’t help but wonder how much of a legend he could have been if he took that job and turned the ship around to a WS for the ‘Stros.

        • Blue387 4 years ago

          Didn’t Friedman have the Pat Burrell contract?

          • 0bsessions 4 years ago

            A miss, but a different kind of miss. He was coming off of a solid year and the contract was only for two years.

    • Cotes56 4 years ago

      He’s 22 and he gave them 3 club options, meaning he won’t hit free agency until 30-31. He can probably still get a big deal at that point, but it’s not even remotely close to the appeal he’d have at hitting the FA market at 27-28

      • nm344 4 years ago

        Lee, CC got huge deals over 30, its not that big a deal.  Nobody would offer 7 or 8 year to a pitcher regardless if he’s 27 or 31.

        • Cotes56 4 years ago

          CC got 7 years at 29. 8-9 years is not out of the realm of possibility, we just haven’t seen a scenario where the stars aligned with a true stud ace hitting free agency at 27 years old. Moore could have been aligned for that, but I guess we’ll never know now. Kershaw is aligned for it now, and if he keeps pitching this way he’ll have no trouble getting 8-9 year deal.

        • Lars Chunks 4 years ago

          CJ Wilson’s 31 and just made $77.5M, and that was him taking less money to go where he wanted.  He could have made even more, and he’s not even close to the type of pitcher Moore projects to be. Like you said, I doubt being 30 will make much of a difference for him.

        • MB923 4 years ago

          Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Mike Hampton, CC Sabathia (Although he opted out, but still)

          • nm344 4 years ago

            teams have learned from those mistakes

          • MB923 4 years ago

            As of now, I wouldn’t call CC’s a mistake.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            teams never learn

      • stl_cards16 4 years ago

        If he’s an ace he will get his huge deal. If he wanted to hit free agency at 28 he would not be guaranteed millions right now. Its a good deal for both parties.

      • alxn 4 years ago

        He just set himself up for life. He could have blown his arm out next year and been working at Home Depot to make ends meet.

      • Lars Chunks 4 years ago

        If I was in his spot I’d take the guaranteed money.  He can still make $40M by the age of 30 in this deal and is guaranteed $14M no matter what.  That’s a lot of money for a pitcher who hasn’t even pitched a full season.  Then he can cash in even more when he turns 30, just like James Shields will do after next season.

  5. baseball52 4 years ago

    The only thing that popped out to me in this article was Brett Anderson’s deal. Not fun.

  6. Rcsully 4 years ago

    If the Rays were smart they should shock the world and go get Fielder. Fielder and Longo in the middle and all that pitching and they WILL win the World Series next year

    • baseball52 4 years ago

      He’s gotta not hit for career lows in BA/OBP/SLG. Then you’ll be ok.

    • JDR 4 years ago

      If the Rays were smart they would be the Rays. And the Rays don’t sign 200+MM contracts.

  7. So I can scratch off Matt Moore off the Orioles trade “Wishlist”?

  8. 0bsessions 4 years ago


    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Seriously, just leave, go to Houston. Please. Sick of you.

  9. I wonder if the Ray’s would do a Montero for Moore deal

    • nm344 4 years ago

      hell to the no

    • That would be maybe the dumbest deal they could possibly make. The best pitching prospect in baseball who has destroyed the minors, has an ace ceiling, and is locked up for 5 years for very cheap FOR a DH who hasn’t even hit that well in the minors

      • Ok screw the trade and i will just watch Montero Crush Moore for the next 8 years until he becomes a free agent and the Yankees sign him anyway

        • haha Montero hasn’t even hit that well in the minors

          • Yankees420 4 years ago

            Really?  2011 was the first time he slugged under .500 since he was in A ball, oh and he’s 22 years old. 

    • vtadave 4 years ago

      You don’t really wonder that do you?

  10. start_wearing_purple
    start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

    How exactly does Friedman do it? Does he dose everyone with happy pills before starting these negotiations? Moore and Price together could be the best 1-2 punch in the league very shortly, add in the price tag…

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Imperius Curse.

    • rzepczynski 4 years ago

      prices price tag is getting to much hell get shipped for prospects in 2 years

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      he does it by guaranteeing big money to players that aren’t even rookies yet. longoria had proven even less than moore when he was signed. it’s a risk they have to take. established rookies would never sign such contracts

      the impressive part is how creatively these contracts are structured. they’re risks for the rays, but really not very huge ones. if it goes south, they’re okay. and if it goes to plan, they make out like kings

      doing it right

  11. Very smart move by the Rays here.  I could only wish my team would operate like the Rays.  May be a precursor to another move now to open up a spot for Moore in the rotation.  Price, Hellickson, Shields, Moore, Davis, Nieman…..someone has to go.

  12. Too bad he’ll be pitching in front of half-full airplane hangars for most his career now.

  13. tomymogo 4 years ago

    This is the new business model for the Rays. The only way to compete with a small market team is taking this kinds of risk. If he stays healthy it’s an awesome move, but he could easily get injured, that’s why it’s good from Matt Moore perspective

  14. joeybw 4 years ago


  15. vtadave 4 years ago

    Glad I didn’t sign this type of deal.

    – C. Kershaw

    • nm344 4 years ago

      Too bad I didnt get to sign a deal like that. 

      – Hundreds of pitchers who fizzled out or got hurt.

      • nm344 4 years ago

        Oh, not to mention Kershaw got a 2.3 Million signing bonus.

  16. hallwagner 4 years ago

    wow, this could be the bargain of the century…

  17. Kershaw’s good and all, but I think Lincecum would be the most appropriate reference here, he will likely make $100MM+ over the same number of years Moore can now make at most $40M.  We have to wait and see on Kershaw, not that he won’t make a boatload.

  18. haymaker9 4 years ago

    Great move by the Rays.  You have to admire the skills of their front office.  Just imagine what they could do with a legit stadium and better attendance.  I’m hoping the Rays either get a new stadium or relocate to a city where people will actually go to the games and generate them some decent revenue. 

  19. slider32 4 years ago

    Good move by the Rays, but I have to think Moore would have made alot more if he went the other route. These great contracts for teams like Moore, Longoria, and Pedroia are not that great for the player or their agent. When it gets to that 5th year and he could be making 10 million he won’t think it was a good move. Moore is one of the best pitchers I have seen come up in the last 5 years. Just think Hultzen almost got that as a signing bonus.

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      “When it gets to that 5th year and he could be making 10 million he won’t think it was a good move.”

      Mark Prior and Joba Chamberlain think you’re spot on in your analysis! And I bet Scott Kazmir is kicking himself to this day for agreeing to his contract extension years ago.

  20. Another great move by the Rays’ front office.  Sure, there’s a bit of risk, but with a small payroll taking a risk with the upside of having one of the best pitchers in baseball at a cheap price is a very good one.

  21. slider32 4 years ago

    The Rays biggest problem is their location, park, and attendance. Add to that, the Yanks, Sox fans flooding their home games. They need to contract along with the Astros, A’s, Jays, or relocate.

    • Onetimeaccount 4 years ago

      While you’re here please give us your thoughts on the Angels signing Pujols, and how Miami does this season.

  22. This is why you need to home grow your own pitchers.

  23. Wish the big market teams had a front office like the Rays. Great signing.

  24. SheaGoodbye 4 years ago

    Few pitchers today are one and done (referring to injuries). If he’s that great of a prospect, I don’t see how this is a good move for him, even for the security. He’d have to either really suck or get really unlucky with injuries to not beat this contract within a few years. Nice job Rays.

  25. STEVEBARTMAN_MVP 4 years ago

    Overall a smart move by Rays management, because even if Moore breaks out and destroys, they have a chance to extend him at any time throughout this contract.

  26. wait_HOWmanyrings 4 years ago

    fabulous move by the rays, this is why they can contend with the money they have

  27. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    freakin genius. what an organization.. I just wish they had some fans

  28. tellrodt 4 years ago

    Great deal for BOTH parties involved.  Now I guess the Rays are definitely going to trade one of their starters for a 1B, considering they won’t be paying MM millions to sit in the minors.  The only question is whether or not NBA commish David Sperm is going to swoop in and veto any trade the Rays try to make.  That last part was a joke, btw.  😉

  29. anthony88 4 years ago

    good player management by the Rays although I think the future of the club is bleak. I think MLB should probably move the team to another place. How about Nashville? Charlotte? or maybe even New Jersey. All I know is that the current location just doesn’t work well. Also tropicana field is a very ugly ballpark 

  30. This is simply a brilliant move by the Rays and even more brilliant move by Matt Moore’s team. Pitchers need to grab the money as soon as they can. Arm surgeries prove this point. IF he pitches out this contract and is healthy he only gets a contract like CC.

    Perfect move for both parties.

  31. OptimisticMarlinsFan 4 years ago

    This will be looked back on as the best move of the offseason when Moore is the best SP in the league in a few years.

  32. You actually think we’d take those 2 bums for Yonder Alonso? LOL LOL LOL. More like Shields buddy. Davis and Niemann are garbage!

  33. John McFadin 4 years ago

    If Yonder wasn’t already projected to be a DH maybe.  You guys have an incredibly old 24 year old on your hands, but don’t be upset.

  34. Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

    Yonder Alonso is incredibly overrated.

    That is all.

  35. bjsguess 4 years ago

    Yonder IS THE MAN.

    What team wouldn’t want a guy who will be in his age 25 season in 2012, who plays a corner position, and has posted a beastly 837 OPS over his illustrious minor league career.

    Of course he DID manage a sparkling 943 OPS in his last stint in the majors. He should be able to keep that up. Not like that was fueled by any luck. Alonso seems like the kind of guy that would consistently post a BABIP in the 387 range. For what it’s worth – that number would have led all of baseball in 2011 had Alonso qualified with enough AB’s.

    Niemann and Davis have both been disappointments. However, there is no reason to think that they couldn’t be 3rd/4th starters and post decent numbers in the NL Central. They are hardly garbage. As for Shields … give me a break. Shields is coming off a 5 WAR season. He is far and away a better player than Alonso could ever HOPE to be.

  36. vtadave 4 years ago

    Yeah Niemann had a 4.06 ERA pitching in the AL East and Davis is still very young, but hey, at least the Reds already have a full rotation.

  37. John McFadin 4 years ago

    You seem to be having a problem with commenting.

  38. Liam_Ho 4 years ago

    And the upside. He generates $14 million worth of value every year for those 5 years.

  39. He only pitched ~135 innings this year.  Reds already have a “full rotation”  they just lack top end quality starters. 

    Cueto, Leake, Arroyo, Wood, Bailey, Volquez, Chapman are the options as of right now.  The only top end guy in that bunch is Cueto.  Leake is a decent #3.  The rest are 4/5 options until they prove themselves otherwise.

  40. Liam_Ho 4 years ago

    This is the only type of risks Tampa can take, while bigger market teams take on massive contracts. At least this has a chance of paying off all the way through.

  41. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    $14M over 5 years? he doesn’t have to be anything close to “lights out” to be worth that much money. he could pitch like wade davis and be worth that much

    you could and people did say the same things about strasburg (and longoria for that matter). i don’t think moore is in his league, but some guys just are a cut above

  42. New? No… Annoyed by stupid comments? Absolutely. Especially considering the ownership he usually calls cheap just happened to spend about $660 million today buying up 35% of the Leafs, Raptors and TFC (as well as the Air Canada Center)

  43. 0bsessions 4 years ago

    My point was, if you’re not new here, it’s hard to argue his posts are getting worse by the day, he’s never been the most even handed in his commentary.

  44. JunKim 4 years ago

    Well, Nimeann’s xFIP is 3.78, he did have injury which limited him 135innings this year but every other year he had 180innings under his belt.  That xFIP 3.78 is done in Beast AL East, facing top 5 offensive teams in baseball.  Matt Garza’s 2010 xFIP was 4.31, Vasquez’s 2010 xFIP in AL East was 4.69.  Look how Vasquez and Garza did this year, when they escaped from AL East. #1 #2 #6 offensive teams which are Sox, Yankees and Jays. Plus even Baltimore has some pops on their bat which makes them 15th best offensive team in baseball.

    Niemann is cheap, cost controlled pitcher and he will likely mark 3.50 ERA with 170~180 innings in National League.

    That’s much better than any of pitchers you’ve mentioned except Cueto. Seriously, pitching against big boys in AL East is a huge factor comparing to pitching in other divisions with pitcher batting every game.

  45. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    cool story bro..
    David Price had to tweet to pack the house during a penant chase… and the house still wasn’t full..

    You can make excuses about economic conditions all you want, but theres no city who isn’t experiencing the same thing. Tampa just not a good sports town. period.

  46. tellrodt 4 years ago

    Whatever, dude, I actually live here, so I know what I’m talking about.  We have fans but some people are too dumb to realize it.  Hard to educate the unteachable.

  47. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    k bro. . let me know when you guys sell out a playoff game

  48. Let me know when TBS doesn’t schedule the Rays for 2pm on a Monday… Game 3 of the ALDS did sell out this year, but a lot of people could not go because they were working, so the stadium was empty. Because of the scheduling, Game 4 did not sell out. Similar story in 2010. But I’m pretty sure we sold out every post-season game in 2008.

  49. tellrodt 4 years ago

    Thank you! Some people really don’t have a clue but it’s all good. I made my case intelligently but somebody had it removed. I have an inkling as to who. Nevertheless, the Rays DO have fans. All you have to do is look at TV ratings compared to those in the NY and Boston areas whenever those citie’s teams come here to play a series. The Rays ALWAYS draw more viewers. It’s not that there are not any fans, it’s just that this place has a huge unemployment rate. Like I said before, some people see the preeeety bluuuuue seats and become easily distracted. I’m done with ignorant people though. Go Rays and go strong!

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