Tampa Bay Rays Lock Up Evan Longoria

John LongballContributor IApril 18, 2008

Only a short while after being called up to the major leagues, Evan Longoria signed a huge contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He was sent down to the minors at the end of spring training. Many saw this as a low budget move by the Rays to save money.

The contract Longoria signed is worth $17.5 million for six years with the potential to be worth $44.5 million over nine years.

Longoria gets $500,000 this year, $550,000 in 2009, $950,000 in 2010, and $2 million in 2011, a salary that would increase to $2.5 million if he is eligible for salary arbitration that year.

He receives $4.5 million in 2012 and $6 million in 2013. Tampa Bay has a $7.5 million option for 2014 with a $3 million buyout, with the buyout price increasing to $4 million if Longoria was eligible for arbitration in 2011.

By November 2014, the Rays must decide whether to exercise an option calling for salaries of $11 million in 2015 and $11.5 million in 2016. His 2016 salary can rise to $14 million, depending on his finish in MVP voting.

If Longoria’s 2014 option is exercised, the 2015-16 option would carry a $1 million buyout.

After being called up to the majors on April 12 and getting a hit in his first game against the Baltimore Orioles, Longoria has been impressive.

He hit his first home run two games later against the New York Yankees, a team the Rays will always have to contend with.

Assuming Longoria can continue to perform at the pace he has started, the Rays will be in good shape. Longoria has the potential to be one of the best hitters in baseball as he has shown in only a few short days at the major league level.

The Rays lineup becomes that much more potent with the addition of Longoria.

Center fielder B.J. Upton has 20/20 power, if not 30/30 power. Carlos Pena continues to put up big numbers and Carl Crawford will always bring in top marks.

Catching for the injured Dioner Navarro, Mike DiFelice and Shawn Riggans have proven they swing a dangerous stick behind the dish. Akinori Iwamura and Jason Bartlett have the potential to become one of the best middle infield combos in the game.

On the pitching side, the return of Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza will be a welcome relief.

Many young pitchers including James Shields and Edwin Jackson have stepped up to the plate and come through in big spots.

The only sour note for the Rays is the bullpen. An attempt to get able arms in pen, basically anyone but Al Reyes, will make this team a contender.