|Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia and extensions for franchise cornerstones||11.26.12 at 8:07 pm ET|
Evan Longoria said at a press conference announcing his six-year, $100 million extension (which will functionally turn his current contract into a 10-year, $136 million pact with the Rays that runs through 2022) that the free agent market never really enticed him, and that he’s hoping to become the first wire-to-wire member of the Rays in franchise history. He was willing to leave potential money on the table in pursuit of that outcome.
Had he concluded his original contract — signed just days after his big league debut in Tampa Bay — in good health while maintaining his career performance to date, then at age 30, the gifted third baseman might well have commanded a contract for nearly double the $100 million he’s been guaranteed by the Rays. But in order to secure a nine-figure deal a full four years before free agency, and to stay with the only franchise he’s ever known, that was a sacrifice Longoria was prepared to make, and one that, from the team’s vantage point, he had to make. There is, after all, considerable risk for a team in making a commitment that does not start until 2017.
The Sox, of course, have their own homegrown franchise cornerstone in Dustin Pedroia, and like Longoria, he jumped in with both feet to sign up long-term with the Red Sox early in his career. The second baseman, shortly after he was announced as the winner of the 2008 AL MVP, agreed to a six-year, $40.5 million deal that runs through 2014 and includes an $11 million (with a $500,000 buyout) for 2015.
Had he passed on the opportunity to sign a long-term deal, Pedroia would have been a free-agent this offseason. Instead the Sox have him under team control (assuming the option is exercised) for three more years at $31 million — an extraordinary value for the club.
As it currently stands, assuming (again) that the Sox would be inclined to exercise their option (a no-brainer), Pedroia is positioned to reach free agency after his age 31 baseball season (he will turn 32 in August 2015). Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an interview earlier in November on the Dennis & Callahan show, cited Pedroia’s deal as an example of a successful long-term commitment and hinted that the team would like to retain him beyond its current commitment. Read the rest of this entry »
|Hot Stove: Rays extend Evan Longoria through at least 2022||at 10:40 am ET|
The Rays announced in a press release that they have reached a six-year contract extension with third baseman Evan Longoria that will run through at least the 2022 season, with an option for 2023. He will be paid $100 million from 2017-22 under the extension. The deal includes Longoria’s original salary for the 2013 season while guaranteeing the three option years in his contract that encompass the 2014-16 seasons. As per the terms of the original deal, Longoria will earn $36 million from 2013-16, meaning he will receive $136 million over the next 10 seasons.
Longoria, 27, is a career .276 hitter with a .361 OBP and .516 slugging mark and has won two Gold Gloves in five big league seasons. The 2008 American League Rookie of the Year signed his original deal just days into his big league career at the start of the 2008 season, when he agreed to a six-year, $17.5 million deal that included the three team options.
He was limited to 74 games in 2012 due to a partially torn hamstring that ultimately required surgery this offseason (a procedure, according to the Rays, that won’t affect his availability for the start of spring training). In that limited time, he hit .289 with a .369 OBP, .527 slugging percentage and .896 OPS along with 17 homers. The No. 3 overall pick of the 2006 draft is now locked up through his age 36 season.
“Evan has all of the attributes we seek in a player,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in the statement. “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.”
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays pitching matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Matt Moore||04.15.12 at 6:50 am ET|
Playing their first home series of the 2012 season, the Red Sox are attempting to dig themselves out of an early 1-5 hole, one that is not too dissimilar from the one they dug themselves in last season. The Sox got off to a good start on that goal by beating the Rays Friday and Saturday Fenway Park and they will look to maintain that success and productivity Sunday in the third game of the series, with a pair of young left-handers taking the mound in Felix Doubront and Matt Moore.
The start will be the second of the season for Doubront, who was a new addition to the Red Sox rotation this season after the spending his previous two major league seasons primarily in a relief role. In his first and only start of the season, Doubront, who entered the season as a question mark in the Red Sox rotation given his inexperience as a MLB starter, was largely impressive.
Facing a talented Blue Jays lineup on the road at the Rogers Centre last Monday, Doubront pitched five innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, all while striking out six batters while walking only three. While Doubront did not get a decision, his effort on the mound helped buoy the Red Sox to a 4-2 win, the team’s first of the season.
Returning to the confines of Fenway Park, Doubront will not be returning to what was a nurturing home, at least as far as his ERA and pitching performance were concerned. In 2011, Doubront, who has a career ERA of 4.69, posted a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 innings pitched at Fenway, his second-highest ERA at a given ballpark (with Rogers Centre being the first).
Though he has spent the entirety of his MLB career pitching in the American League East, Doubront is relatively inexperienced against the Rays lineup. No Tampa Bay batter has faced Doubront more than four times and combined, Rays batters have just 17 total plate appearances against Doubront (spread across eight different players). Of that bunch, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who has a team-high four career plate appearances against Doubront, has had the most success, with a .500 batting average with one hit and two walks.
Opposing the Red Sox will be a pitcher who has thus far proven himself to be a promising young arm in Moore. As a rookie last season, Moore pitched in just three games, one of which was a start, and posted a 2.89 record with a very impressive 5-1 strikeout-to-ball ratio (15 strikeouts to just three walks in 9 1/3 innings pitched).
Though it came in a losing effort for his team, Moore continued that string of quality pitching as he pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up just two earned runs on four hits in the Rays’ 5-2 loss at the Tigers Tuesday. Like Doubront against the Blue Jays, Moore took no decision in his outing.
|Manny Ramirez and Evan Longoria put on a BP show for Red Sox fans||03.22.11 at 6:32 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Prior to their Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox Tuesday night, Rays stars Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez took batting practice.
For Ramirez, it was yet another reunion with several of the Red Sox uniformed staff that have stayed in place since he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31, 2008.
Ramirez said hi to several old friends and then, along with Longoria, put on a display for the fans at City of Palms Park. Ramirez, Longoria and B.J. Upton were in the same hitting group and it was Ramirez who belted several out, including a moon shot off the right side of the scoreboard in deep left-center.
Longoria batted third and Ramirez fourth in Tuesday night’s game, a likely scenario to take place when the season opens for the Rays.
John Lackey got the starting nod for the Red Sox. Lackey will start the season as Boston’s No. 2 starter and is in line to start the home opener at Fenway Park on April 8 against the Yankees.
The Red Sox countered with a lineup that will also likely mirror their Opening Day lineup with Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford hitting in the top third, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz filling out 4-5-6 and J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek and Marco Scutaro rounding out the lineup.
|Could Kevin Youkilis be on the verge of making Gold Glove history?||03.18.11 at 12:27 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – While many were focusing on Marco Scutaro’s fine play in the field during the Red Sox’ spring training game against the Braves Wednesday, lost was another exceptional moment with the glove.
Kevin Youkilis dove to his left, scooped up Martin Prado’s grounder, and threw out the Atlanta baserunner. Great play. Few noticed.
The relative silence regarding Youkilis’ performance at third base wasn’t hard to figure out. People had seen him play a solid 219 major-league games at the position, so expectations were already set.
It might be time to amp up those expectations.
The question is this: Can Youkilis become the first player since Darin Erstad to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions?
“I don’t see why not,” said Red Sox third base/infield coach Tim Bogar. “He did it on the other side of the field. In my mind, the one thing is throwing for the whole season, and he’s been fine with it this spring. That just comes with using his lower half, and he’s done that this spring.”
Youkilis does have his Gold Glove, winning the award in 2007 for his work at first base. And few are going to doubt his abilities when it comes to that side of the diamond, where in 575 games he totaled a .997 fielding percentage (making just 13 errors).
But even though his time at third base has been sporadic throughout the past few years, his fielding percentage at the position is better than two-time Gold Glove-winner David Wright’s number since ’05.
|1st Inning: Is Evan Longoria the Best Hitter in the A.L.?||05.09.09 at 4:07 pm ET|
As a 23-year-old, in just his second season, Evan Longoria is clearly an even more devastating hitter than he was a year ago. He’s been less pull-heavy than he was as a rookie, and Longoria says that he feels his emphasis on driving the ball from gap to gap is paying obvious dividends.
So, too, is the constant attention conferred on Carl Crawford whenever he reached base. Crawford is batting in the two-hole precisely in hopes that his base-stealing threat will help give Longoria better pitches to hit. There are a few contributing elements to the cause, but the result has been clear: Longoria is playing at an exceptional level. He came into today with 10 homers (2nd in the A.L. to teammate Carlos Pena), hitting .362 (4th in the A.L.) with a .411 OBP (8th) with a .741 slugging mark (1st).
He continued his sophomore surge in the top of the first against Jon Lester. With Crawford on first, Lester seemed at times preoccupied (understandably so, given that Crawford entered today on pace for 110 steals, and licking his chops at the prospect of becoming the first man in two decades to get 100 thefts). The left-hander three to first three times and operated out of the slide step, navigating to a full count against Longoria.
Lester still delivered an excellent pitch — a 94 mph fastball with sink, that ran below the knees. Even so, Longoria lined a ball off the top of the wall in straightaway center for his 11th homer of the year to give the Rays a 2-0 blast.
Before the game, Maddon suggested that Longoria is in a rare class for a 23-year-old, a place occupied by the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey for precocious greatness. The third baseman continues to show why he is receiving such accolades.
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