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Evan Longoria Rumors
Michael Saunders‘ recovery from a torn meniscus is “kind of a miracle,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters, including Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star. Saunders is already back to baseball activities in camp less than two weeks after deciding to have the injured cartilage removed completely. It was originally thought that the injury would sideline Saunders for the first half of the season, but he now has a shot at the Opening Day lineup and, at worst, should be back on the field by mid-April. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Orioles right-hander Darren O’Day said the club has yet to discuss a new contract with him, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. While O’Day said he’d enjoy staying in Baltimore, he also noted that team will have a lot of other business to handle, as O’Day is one of 11 Orioles who will be free agents after the season.
- “Pitching and defense is how we build this team and it’s going to be the way we continue to succeed,” Rays GM Matt Silverman told Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth of MLB Network Radio interview (audio link), though Silverman also believes the lineup is “much more balanced…and much more formidable 1-through-9.” This balance, Silverman feels, will help Tampa string together more big innings and have more luck scoring runs. “A lot of it [the scoring problems] had to do with situational stuff and things that not necessarily were flukish, but things that we thought would revert back to the mean. We put a lot of guys on base, we just didn’t get them home,” Silverman said.
- Phillips and Hollandsworth also interviewed Evan Longoria during their visit to the Rays‘ camp (audio link), and the third baseman said that he’s hoping to finish his career in a Tampa Bay uniform. Longoria’s contract with the club runs through 2022, which would be his age-36 season, plus the Rays have a club option on his services for 2023. While Longoria expressed his desire to be a one-franchise guy, he did hint that this would be contingent on the Rays continuing to be a winner. “From the beginning, I really wanted to be one of…those rare guys who get to spend their whole career in one place,” Longoria said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be on good teams and that’s really what makes guys want to stay places….For as long as that’s happening, I’m happy being here.”
- Estimates on how long Chris Capuano will be sidelined with his strained right quad range from “at least the first week or two of the season” (as the southpaw told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch) to all of April. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand that Capuano “is not going to do anything, at least for a couple of weeks. Nothing. The problem is we are so early in the process, you are almost going to have to start over.”
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles are still the team to beat in the AL East, a largely stagnant offseason which included losing two top players. The Orioles are, in part, banking on Chris Davis having a bounce back season in his walk year and they believe healthy seasons out of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters will elevate them. More from Cafardo..
- Agent Scott Boras thinks the market for Stephen Drew will heat up in January after teams have exhausted trade possibilities for a middle infielder. Boras hinted to Cafardo that a personal issue may have contributed to his offensive decline last season, though he declined to elaborate.
- The Indians would like to trade Nick Swisher after acquiring Brandon Moss from Oakland and the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres, Brewers, and Cubs could all be possible trade partners. Swisher is owed about $30MM on his deal, however, so Cleveland might have to foot some of the bill.
- One National League GM told Cafardo that he inquired about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and was rebuffed. The Rays have Longoria under contract at $11MM this year and $11.5MM next year before his extension kicks in in 2017, running through 2023.
- Cafardo writes that Jonny Gomes could wind up with former Red Sox Jon Lester and David Ross on the Cubs to add some veteran presence to a young outfield. “He’s still an effective player. He works for a team that’s on the verge and on a team like the Cubs or Astros who need a veteran presence,” said one National League GM.
- At some point, the Phillies might have to release Ryan Howard and eat more than $60MM in salary. Still, it’s not surprising to hear that a GM told Cafardo that an American League team would scoop him up as a DH if he is free.
The St. Petersburg City Council rejected an agreement that would’ve allowed the Rays to explore sites for a new stadium within the greater St. Petersburg area, Stephen Nohlgren, Charlie Frago and Kameel Stanley of the Tampa Bay Times write. In a media release, Rays president Brian Auld said, “We are obviously disappointed. Our goal was to begin a collaborative, exploratory process in our region to determine the best location for a next generation ballpark. The council has instead decided that the status quo is what is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Petersburg.” Needless to say, this development will lead to renewed speculation about the Rays’ long-term future in the Tampa area, as owner Stuart Sternberg has threatened to sell the team rather than continue at Tropicana Field.
Here’s some more from the Rays…
- There’s no evidence the Rays are considering trading Evan Longoria, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. If Tampa was looking into a rebuild, it stands to reason that Longoria (by far the team’s highest-paid player) would be a trade chip.
- From that same tweet, Heyman also notes that Wil Myers “rebuffed [an] overture” from the Rays about a long-term deal. There were some whispers last spring that Tampa would look to extend Myers as the team has done with so many of its young stars. Of course, Myers’ time as a Ray is almost up as the young outfielder is on the verge of being dealt to San Diego.
- Even as far back as Myers’ Rookie of the Year season in 2013, the Rays had some doubts about whether the outfielder would become a consistent player, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes as part of his latest Insider-only column. Given these doubts, the Myers trade makes a lot of sense for the Rays as a sell-high move, Olney notes.
A few weeks ago, the Orioles and Athletics discussed a trade that would’ve seen Jim Johnson return to Baltimore, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link). The Orioles were the ones who ultimately decided not to pursue the deal. The A’s have been having trouble finding a trade partner for the struggling reliever, as prior talks with the Marlins also fell through. Johnson wouldn’t have been returning to his old closer role with the O’s, as Zach Britton has been excellent as Baltimore’s ninth-inning stopper this season.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Rival officials see the Cardinals, Mariners and Dodgers as the three teams best positioned to acquire David Price from the Rays, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. In the Insider-only piece, Olney looks at the pros and cons for each club in making a big trade for Price.
- Also from Olney (Twitter link), the concept of a trade for both Price and Evan Longoria has been mentioned by some in the Cardinals organization. There is “zero indication” such a deal has been discussed with the Rays, however, and the idea could well just be idle front office brainstorming.
- Signing Jon Lester to a contract extension may seem like a no-brainer on paper for the Red Sox, yet as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal illustrates, the team is worried by the long list of pitchers who suddenly declined or got injured in their early 30’s.
We've already shared a Nate McLouth free agent profile, some Blue Jays notes, Yankees notes and the news of Robinson Cano's contract demands today, so let's take a look around the rest of the AL East…
- This could be David Price's last season and playoff run with the Rays, as CBS Sports' Danny Knobler figures that this offseason (when Price has two remaining years of team control) is the perfect time for the Rays to maximize their return on a trade.
- Rays third baseman Evan Longoria looked up to Derek Jeter as a kid, yet he didn't emulate Jeter by playing for the Yankees but rather by staying with one franchise for his career, Harvey Araton of the New York Times writes. Robinson Cano has the opportunity to be a one-franchise player if he re-signs with the Yankees this offseason and Longoria believes Cano will stay because the Yankees are always looking to contend. “I’m sure Robby realizes that his organization is never going into a year saying they are rebuilding,” Longoria said. “You can’t not like that, or respect that.”
- Unless David Ortiz goes on the DL over the next four days, the Red Sox slugger has stayed healthy enough to add an extra $4MM to his 2014 salary, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes writes. Ortiz the first 20 days of the season on the DL with his right Achilles injury but hasn't returned, so he is now guaranteed $15MM in the final year of his two-year contract with the Sox.
- The Red Sox were Todd Helton's last opponent at Coors Field, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Sox twice tried to acquire Helton from the Rockies. A proposed 2002 blockbuster would've seen Helton and Larry Walker go to Boston in exchange for a trade package headlined by Manny Ramirez, and then in 2008 the Rockies turned down an offer of Mike Lowell for Helton straight-up.
- The time has come for the Orioles to increase payroll and add the necessary remaining pieces to their contending roster, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun argues.
The Rays have made a name for themselves as a club that gets the most out of limited resources. So, when they commit $100MM, as they did with Evan Longoria’s six-year extension in November, it’s not too surprising to see Longoria himself refer to the figure as “an insane number.” The 23rd most lucrative extension in baseball history dwarfs the three-year, $28.5MM extension Tampa Bay gave Scott Kazmir in 2008, the team’s second highest entry on that all-time list. The money also clearly establishes Longoria as the focal point for a team that faces uncertainty about whether it will make a similar commitment to David Price.
“Keeping David is the hot topic,” outfielder Sam Fuld told MLBTR. “Everybody’s aware that we do have the ability to keep him long-term, but it’s just a cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth doling out X amount of money for David and then having fewer dollars to spend on other guys.”
Ben Zobrist, who signed a four-year, $18MM extension in 2010, doesn’t subscribe to the idea that one high-dollar move necessarily precludes another. He, like Fuld and several other players who spoke to MLBTR this spring, ultimately views Longoria’s extension as a positive. Zobrist doesn’t think Rays management gave too much thought to Price when they were negotiating the deal for Longoria.
“Shoot, I don’t think that that’s what they were sitting around doing,” he said. “Like, hey, let’s do this, and not do this. I think they’re taking it one step at a time. With what we’ve got right now, and what our team’s looking like this year, our goal is to win a World Championship this year. They’ve got to make the best decisions they feel for our organization for this year and beyond. Evan was the step that they were able to make in the offseason, and I’m sure they’re trying to do more.”
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters last month that the team can “absolutely” re-sign Price, but he questioned what the Rays could afford to put around the left-hander if they did. Infielder Sean Rodriguez echoed those sentiments, and believes Longoria's deal is a sign of the team's financial mettle.
"When you see somebody that you’re willing to spend the money on and you want to use, whether it’s as the face of the franchise or what not, it says, yeah, we’re willing to spend the money if it’s somebody who’s going to contribute back to the team and we know it’s going to be beneficial for us to keep long term. Then we’ll do it," Rodriguez said. "That’s what they did with Longo. Hopefully they do that with 14 (Price).”
Even if it doesn't break the bank, Longoria’s deal comes with significant risks. Chief among them might be his durability after a partially torn left hamstring limited him to 74 games last season. Longoria will turn 37 in the final guaranteed year of the extension, and conventional wisdom suggests he’ll become increasingly injury prone as he ages. Manager Joe Maddon isn’t worried, though, based on his view that many players become less susceptible to nagging injuries over time as they continue to refine their workout programs and become further accustomed to the daily grind of the major league schedule. The manager also expressed his belief that a lavish contract doesn’t change a player’s approach, citing his five-category system for describing the attitudes of major league players.
“For the most part, I think it just truly puts them into that category five player — all I want to do is win,” Maddon said. "They’ve gone through the other stages of this game and now they can really focus on one thing. The attempt to make a lot of money is gone, and now it’s just about winning only. I think that’s what happens most of the time. You get past, ‘I belong here and now I want to make some dough,’ and they do. Now when they show up at the ballpark there’s only one agenda: winning the World Series.”
Maddon praised Longoria for the way he’s handled the extension, one in which he’s solidified his status as a team leader without fostering envy in a clubhouse otherwise filled with players on much cheaper deals. It’s apparent that there’s no undercurrent of jealousy among his teammates.
“He’s one of the best players in the game; he deserves what he got,” right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said. "We’re happy for him, and it doesn’t really affect us too much.”
Pitchers Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann said they take comfort in knowing Longoria, who led all major league third basemen in UZR in his last full season, will be at the hot corner for years to come. Hitters said they also see a benefit when a star like Longoria signs for the long haul.
“It’s great; it’s refreshing to see a guy who just really cares about the franchise, and that’s sort of a rarity these days,” Fuld said. “It’s kind of uplifting to everybody else. It really helps us buy into the team idea, because given the trades, releases and uncertainty of the game, it’s difficult sometimes to look at the team aspect of things. It’s easy to individualize things and just worry about yourself, but when somebody makes what some would term a sacrifice, it really puts a lot in perspective and allows us to focus on the team.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Royals will approach their upcoming roster decisions with the goal of preserving "inventory," Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. That means keeping as many players in the system as possible, which in turn means that players who are out of options will have a better chance of making the team, so the Royals don't risk losing them. The following players are out of options: Bruce Chen, Jarrod Dyson, Jeremy Guthrie, J.C. Gutierrez, Brett Hayes, Luke Hochevar, Elliot Johnson, George Kottaras, Luis Mendoza and Felipe Paulino. Hayes, Kottaras and Adam Moore are battling to back up Salvador Perez at catcher. Since Moore has an option, he will likely return to the minor leagues, and the Royals will choose between Hayes and Kottaras, keeping one while potentially trading or losing the other. The many teams currently on the lookout for catching help will presumably be watching the Royals' situation closely. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ is unhappy with the possibility of beginning the season in the bullpen or at Triple-A Buffalo, and he will "probably" speak to GM Alex Anthopoulos about it, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports. Happ got bumped from the Jays' rotation plans when they traded for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey this offseason.
- Indians pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched three innings in a minor-league game on Saturday, but he's running out of time to make the team, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Matsuzaka left his previous start after one inning with a calf injury. Matsuzaka is a Type XX(B) free agent, so the Indians have to decide by March 26 whether to add him to their 25-man roster. If they don't, Matsuzaka can ask to be released, or can accept a minor-league assignment with a $100K retention bonus and an opt-out date of June 1. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that the Indians will likely go with a rotation of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers, Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir, in which case Matsuzaka wouldn't make the team.
- Evan Longoria is aware of the big expectations associated with the six-year, $100MM contract extension he signed with the Rays in November, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "It's an insane number," says Longoria. "I feel the same way that I felt with the last contract, but there's just, I don't know if there could be more of a desire, but there is still obviously a strong, strong desire to live up to it."
Here are some details on three recently-signed contracts…
- Ryan Madson's one-year contract with Angels will pay him $500k each for 45, 90, 135, and 180 days on the roster as long as he is not on the DL with a right arm injury, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He will also receive $250K each for 35, 40, 45, and 50 games finished.
- Torii Hunter's two-year, $26MM contract with the Tigers is slightly backloaded, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. He'll earn $12MM in 2013 and $14MM in 2014, plus $100K bonuses for each All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, LCS MVP, and World Series MVP he wins.
- Evan Longoria's salary for 2013 has been reduced from $6MM to $2MM as part of his new contract with the Rays, reports Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times. The remaining $4MM was converted into a signing bonus. Topkin also has information on the deferments and escalator clauses in the deal.
- The players' union values Longoria's new contract with the Rays at ten years and $131MM according to Rosenthal (on Twitter). The present day value ($136.6MM) has been reduced due to deferred money.
The Rays have done it again. For the second time in four years, they've signed Evan Longoria to a surprising long-term contract extension that will keep the third baseman in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future. The Rays announced that they extended Longoria for an additional six seasons by guaranteeing three club options on his previous deal and adding $100MM in new money to the contract. Longoria will now earn $136MM from 2013-22 under his contract, which includes a club option for 2023.
The contract incorporates the 2013-15 salaries from Longoria's original deal with the Rays and increases his 2016 salary, meaning the third baseman will earn $6MM in 2013, $7.5MM in 2014, $11MM in 2015 and $12.1MM in 2016. Longoria receives a $1MM signing bonus and will earn $13MM in 2017, $13.5MM in 2018, $14.5MM in 2019, $15MM in 2020, $18.5MM in 2021 and $19.5MM in 2022. His 2023 option is for $13MM and carries a $5MM buyout. Additionally, the new contract pays Longoria a $2MM bonus if he's traded to another team. Under his previous deal, the Rays had club options for the 2014-16 seasons. Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said it made sense for the team to sign Longoria for the next decade.
“Evan has all of the attributes we seek in a player,” Friedman said in a statement released by the team. “His determination and work ethic inspire others around him. He is devoted to his craft and strives to improve himself every year, and he defines success in terms of team performance and achievement. It’s exciting to know that Evan will be manning third base for the Rays for many years to come.”
TWC Sports represents Longoria, whose previous contract was often cited as one of the most team-friendly deals in the game. The Rays signed Longoria to a six-year, $17.5MM contract six games into his MLB career. The deal, which included three club options, did establish a new record for guaranteed money obtained by a player with so little service time. In the four years since he signed his deal with the Rays, he has become their best player.
“Evan has clearly become a cornerstone player and a fixture in our organization,” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. “We are proud of what we have accomplished these past seven years, and I expect the best is yet to come.”
Longoria played in just 74 games this past season. He suffered a partially torn hamstring in April and spent much of the season on the disabled list. Last week Longoria underwent a minor hamstring procedure that doesn’t affect his timeline for the 2013 campaign.
Longoria was the third overall selection in 2006 and the first player drafted under Sternberg and Friedman. In five seasons at the MLB level, he has a .276/.361/.516 batting line with 130 home runs. Statistically minded readers will note that he has produced nearly 30 wins above replacement in that time (29.3 per FanGraphs and 28.5 per Baseball-Reference). The three-time All-Star has a pair of Gold Gloves that were well-earned according to defensive metrics and traditional observers alike.
This extension doesn't compare particularly well to other deals since Longoria was so far removed from free agency and had been playing under a unique deal. The deal does resemble the contract signed by Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals this spring in that both third basemen added six years and $100MM to pre-existing contracts after seasons in which they were limited by injuries.
Longoria will donate more than $1MM to the Rays Baseball Foundation over the life of the contract, the team announced.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
The Indians have lost nine games in a row, but they don’t plan on reacting to their struggles by making a managerial change. General manager Chris Antonetti said Manny Acta will return as the team's manager in 2013, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter). The team already exercised Acta's 2013 option last September. Here are today’s links…
- Shane Victorino hasn't been with the Dodgers long, but he'd like to stay there long-term, in part because of the proximity to his parents in Hawaii and family home in Las Vegas, writes ESPN's Mark Saxon.
- The Dodgers and Angels could bid against one another for Zack Greinke when the right-hander hits free agency this coming offseason, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. The Angels intend to keep Greinke, and the Dodgers are prepared to spend on elite pitching, as evidenced by their claim of Cliff Lee.
- Olney points out that Kyle Lohse is positioning himself for a solid free agent contract, and suggests he could approach Mark Buehrle’s four-year, $58MM contract. Lohse is older than Buehrle and doesn’t have the same history of durability, so I will personally be surprised if Lohse gets a four-year deal or an annual salary of $14MM.
- Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez and Andrew McCutchen provide their respective teams with considerable value, relative to their contracts, but Evan Longoria has the most team-friendly contract in MLB, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes (Passan's not considering pre-arbitration eligible players). The Rays announced that they will activate Longoria from the disabled list for tomorrow’s game.
- The Nationals announced that they agreed to sign four international free agents: right-hander Ramses Rosario and outfielders Aldrem Corredor, Darryl Florentino and Luis Guzman.