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.

Rays

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.


Leave a Reply

106 Comments on "Rays Lock Up Matt Moore"


Cotes56
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

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

Ben_Cherington
3 years 8 months ago

good call, I miscounted the yrs. 

STEVEBARTMAN_MVP
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

they did, its called “the extra 2%”

nm344
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

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

0bsessions
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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.

3 years 8 months ago

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

0bsessions
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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.

3 years 8 months ago

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

captainjeter
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

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

Yeah…..ooookay….

3 years 8 months ago

Good for Moore. Well deserved after that postseason performance!

3 years 8 months ago

PS That’s super cheap!

Danthebaseballman
3 years 8 months ago

Wow, this is crazy cheap

Lars Chunks
3 years 8 months 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.

Alex
3 years 8 months ago

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

raffish
3 years 8 months ago

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

stl_cards16
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

Its how they have to operate with their Budget.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

Didn’t Friedman have the Pat Burrell contract?

0bsessions
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

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

nm344
3 years 8 months ago

teams have learned from those mistakes

MB923
3 years 8 months ago

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

notsureifsrs
3 years 8 months ago

teams never learn

stl_cards16
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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.

baseball52
3 years 8 months ago

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

Rcsully
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

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

JDR
3 years 8 months ago

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

3 years 8 months ago

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

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

DAMN YOU ANDREW FRIEDMAN!!!

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

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

3 years 8 months ago

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

nm344
3 years 8 months ago

hell to the no

3 years 8 months ago

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

3 years 8 months ago

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

3 years 8 months ago

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

Yankees420
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

You don’t really wonder that do you?

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months ago

Imperius Curse.

rzepczynski
3 years 8 months ago

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

notsureifsrs
3 years 8 months 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

3 years 8 months ago

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.

3 years 8 months ago

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

tomymogo
3 years 8 months 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

joeybw
3 years 8 months ago

OMG OMG OMG WORDS SENTENCES OMG

vtadave
3 years 8 months ago

Glad I didn’t sign this type of deal.

– C. Kershaw

nm344
3 years 8 months ago

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

– Hundreds of pitchers who fizzled out or got hurt.

nm344
3 years 8 months ago

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

hallwagner
3 years 8 months ago

wow, this could be the bargain of the century…

3 years 8 months ago

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.

3 years 8 months ago

Love this.

haymaker9
3 years 8 months 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. 

slider32
3 years 8 months 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
3 years 8 months 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.