Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rays Push Back Evan Longoria's Payday

Evan Longoria, a highly-touted prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, was recalled from Triple-A Durham. He is expected to make his debut today against the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria, the third pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, will be stepping in for injured third baseman Willy Aybar, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list after missing his second game with a hamstring injury.

With an outstanding spring, Longoria showed he was the Rays' best option at third base. He was both offensively and defensively superior to Aybar. Accordingly, the Rays sent him to the minors to start the year, where he hasn't had the best of starts.

“We’ve been decimated by injuries. It’s not necessarily the ideal way that we wanted to call him up,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.

“But we’re confident in his ability to adjust at the plate, and what he brings to us defensively is something that we felt was very important to where we’re going.”

If Longoria can contribute at the plate and is that something the club has been searching for defensively, why did Tampa Bay start the season with Aybar?

The answer is simple: money. By spending just 13 days in the minors to start the year, this season will not qualify as a full season of experience for Longoria. Longoria will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. Thus, the Rays will have the third baseman on the cheap for an extra year.

The problem comes in the system. Players with three years of service or less essentially have their salaries controlled by the club. If a player doesn't like the team's offer, the team can just renew to player's contract for even less. For example, Prince Fielder had 50 homers and was second in the NL MVP voting, yet will earn $670,000 this season--a fact he wasn't too happy about. Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, among the league's best at his position, is signed for $439,000 this year.

In Longoria's case, the Tampa Bay Rays will have him dirt cheap for what amounts to four seasons.

Then, after the 2011 season, Longoria will be eligible for arbitration and receive market value. In 2014, he can become a free agent and get his revenge. Still, an extra year he will wait.

Wouldn't it be fitting if the Rays turn it around with Longoria, only to missing the playoffs by a game? If only he was here from the beginning, they say.


About the Undrafted Free Agent

Ron Crimson was the only player on the high school roster to not get in a game. He couldn't argue with the decision, because he sucked. Needless to say, yet stated anyway, when he entered the NBA draft following his sophomore season in college, he went undrafted. Now, Ron Crimson is the Undrafted Free Agent.

Contact the Undrafted Free Agent

Interested in informing the Undrafted Free Agent of his mistakes, advertisement opportunities, or a scoop on the latest sports scandal? (You can guess which is more likely.) Well, email him at undraftedfreeagent [at]

Look at This!

There's nothing here; I just needed to fill some space. Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! I also needed to balance it out a bit.

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