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.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.