Baseball's Roberto Luongo

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Baseball's Roberto Luongo
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Since I don't follow hockey, there has to be a good reason why hockey's about to mentioned here. A 12-year contract extension will do that:

The Vancouver Canucks and goalie Roberto Luongo agreed to a 12-year contract extension Wednesday.

The three-time All-Star was entering the final season of a four-year, $27-million contract. The new deal will run through the 2021-22 season and is reportedly worth $64 million.

"Roberto Luongo is the leader of our hockey team; he is in the prime of his playing career and has a tremendous desire to make the Canucks a championship team," general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. "His leadership, competitiveness and character are what this team will represent for many years to come."

Luongo, 30, is expected to finish his career in Vancouver. He also plans to play for Canada at the 2010 Olympics.

Now as well all know, there is only one player in baseball currently with a contract that exceeds 10 years. That man, of course, is Alex Rodriguez, who signed a 10-year, $275 million extension with the Yankees in 2007.

But the Roberto Luongo contract extension got me thinking: Who will be the next baseball player to receive a contract that exceeds 10 years?

Evan Longoria came close (kind of) last season, when he agreed to a six-year, $17.5 million extension with the Rays that included three club options that would take the contract through 2016. So that'd be nine years. Impressive, but not Luongo-esque.

There are only a handful of players that I think are young enough and talented enough to actually warrant a contract of that length.

Joe Mauer: Mauer will be a free agent after the 2011 season, when he will only be 28 years old. A 10+ year contract would be awfully risky for a catcher, but the Twins might have to get creative if they want to keep their franchise player.

Felix Hernandez: I've read that Hernandez can become a free agent after the 2011 season, but I've yet to confirm that with Cot's Baseball Contracts.

But if that's indeed true, Hernandez will be 26-years old when the 2012 season begins and should be entering the prime of his career, which is scary when you think about how good he is already. It's a definite risk to give a contract that long to pitcher (just go ask Barry Zito), but if there's a pitcher worthy of this kind of a deal, it's King Felix.

Tim Lincecum: Eventually the Giants will have to sit down and try to iron out a contract with Lincecum, who has become the face of the franchise in three quick years. There is a very good chance that the 25-year-old Lincecum could walk away with his second CY Young award this season.

There's a very good chance that if Lincecum signs a extension with the Giants in the near future, the deal would set all kinds of records for a player with only three years of service time. Could a 10+ year contract be in Lincecum's future? I doubt it.

Justin Upton: Even though Upton will not be a free agent until after the 2013 season, a Luongo-esque contract might make a lot of sense for the Diamondbacks (if he continues to produce).

By all accounts, Upton is one of the most talented players in baseball and has put together a fantastic 2009 season, so if the Diamondbacks want to keep Upton long term, a contract that gives Upton lots of security and gives the Diamondbacks some financial flexibility ( a la Evan Longoria) makes sense.

The reality of 10+ year contracts in baseball is this: giving out such long term deals is very difficult to do and forces the team to assume a large amount of risk.

At the same time, even though players would love to have so much security, it makes more sense for guys like Mauer, Hernandez, and Lincecum to sign a five or six year deal because there's a VERY realistic possibility that if they stay healthy and productive, that there's another big contract down the road.

In this sense though, it would make plenty of sense for the Diamondbacks to lock Upton up for 10+ years. Upton is the future face of the franchise and even though he's unproven, the Diamondbacks best chance to keep him for a long period of time is probably to make a strong commitment to him now before he blows up like Mauer, Hernandez, and Lincecum all have.

Thoughts?

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