Friday, April 18, 2008

Rays Give Six-Game Veteran $17.5M

Earlier we wondered if the Dodgers should be pursuing the mid-market team strategy of buying out the arbitration years of budding stars, a trend that has become so popular that the market for potential, not actual production, has exploded. Now comes word that the Rays have signed Evan Longoria to a six-year, $17.5 million contract, "a deal that could be worth up to $44 million over nine seasons."

Longoria has 20 major league at-bats in six games. Although this deal could turn out to be a masterstroke of foresight, it's helping turn the buyout process into the baseball card market, with actual rookies taking the place of rookie cards. The Rays would argue that with the 29th-lowest payroll in the majors, such moves are necessary to stay competitive. But it's only going to make keeping our young stars—Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney—more difficult for the Dodgers.

And if Longoria is worth $17.5 million, what is Clayton Kershaw worth?