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The Rays lock up Matt Moore for five years, $14 million with multiple team options

Dec 9, 2011, 11:20 AM EDT

Matt Moore Getty Images

Not counting the playoffs, Matt Moore has a grand total of three games and nine and one-third innings of major league experience. But as first reported by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, he is now locked up on a five-year, $14 million deal. That part of it takes him through arbitration. Marc Topkin adds that the Rays hold options for 2017-19, which could make this into an eight-year, $39.75 million deal over the 8 years

Say what you want about the uncertainty of pitching prospects, but this is an absolutely incredible bargain for the Rays. It makes the Evan Longoria deal — the current benchmark for a team-friendly deal — look like an overpay.  No, you can’t project a guy as young as Matt Moore to be the next Tim Lincecum, but look at the kind of money Lincecum made through his first five seasons — something like $27 million — and you can see what Moore is foregoing here.

And if Moore does fulfill his potential — even as a merely above average starter — the potential for the Rays to have him through age 30 at less than $40 million is a freakin’ steal.

Not that anyone can really blame him too harshly. Like I said: he has less than ten innings under his belt. He could blow out his arm tomorrow. Now, at age 22, his life is set up better than most people’s ever will be, even if it’s less-set-up than most ballplayers of his talent level typically are through the first five-eight years of their career.

In any case: solid move for the Rays. Just a fantastic business and baseball decision for them.

  1. lardin - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    This is why the Rays can compete with the Yankees and the Sox. They have smart people making good baseball decisions…

    • trevorb06 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      They also have players who seem to truly enjoy playing in Tampa Bay and realize it’s not all about getting the biggest contract possible. Don’t get me wrong, if I were an elite player I’d want to be paid like one but if I knew I could sign with 3 different teams for 10 years and at least 20 million a season and I loved the team I was currently on and just won a WS; I could give them a bit of a discount.

      Good move for both sides! Moore, enjoy the sunshine and beautiful women in Florida!

      • bostonjerry23 - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        What WS did they just win??

      • trevorb06 - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:53 PM

        Obviously you didn’t get that I was referring to Albert Pujols and the Cards there with my 10 year $200+ million comment. Smart day for you champ.

      • pmcenroe - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:29 PM

        Moore/Zoberist/Shields/Longoria weren’t in the position to command that type of offer when they got these deals as they were still under team control. When they do hit the FA market you don’t think they take the best deals possible like Pujols did?

    • randygnyc - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      From a rookies perspective, he gets a payday and some security for the next few years. At the same time he avoids a few years playing at league minimum. Yes, the player may have had more leverage, for more money, had he had a longer track record to base things on, but he’s got guaranteed money in case of failure or injury.

      I’m a little disappointed as a Yankee fan. Would have liked a chance to sign/trade for him. Now, by the time he’s on the market, he’ll likely have 1500 innings in that virgin arm. He’d look great in pinstripes, don’t’cha think?

      • Kevin S. - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        The Rays were never going to trade him, and if all the options are exercised, he’s only hitting the market two years later than he would have. Dreaming on Rays prospects is something of a futile endeavor.

      • senorstem - Dec 9, 2011 at 5:20 PM

        ^^^^^^That comment is everything that is wrong with Yankees fans.

    • ta192 - Dec 9, 2011 at 6:55 PM

      Or dumb ballplayers.

  2. scapistron - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    If this were the NBA, the commissioner would disallow the move based on it being unfair to the other teams in the league.

    • sdelmonte - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM

      Bud Selig looks more and more like Bart Giamatti next to Stern of late.

    • Kyle - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      Ha! As a Seattle sports fan, there’s nothing that delights me more than Stern continually screwing up his league.

  3. Alex K - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    What an awesome deal for the Rays.

  4. sknut - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Dang the Rays are smart and kudos for locking up Moore. They constantly find ways to out do themselves time after time.

  5. shawnuel - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    HUGE Andrew Friedman fan. If he was GM for The Yankees, Bud Light probably would have overturned the contract for being unfair to the rest of the league.

  6. wlschneider09 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Wow. Does this kid have an agent? Wow.

    Kudos to the Rays, and I hope that Moore is happy, but I can’t imagine an agent that would allow him to sign this contract.

    • Alex K - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      Any agent that would not allow a player to sign a contract should be fired.

      • bostonjerry23 - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        TRUE! But if he’s as good as they believe he will be his agent just lost him 10’s of millions!

      • bobdira - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:28 PM

        Please explain.

        Anyone who believes this deal is one sided is an idiot. Think of the risk the Rays are taking by locking up that money on someone who really isn’t a major league success beyond the handful of innings he’s pitched. The road to the major leagues is littered with blown out arms of huge potential kids, head cases and busts.

        There is no guarantee of this kid being a superstar or a bust so both sides took risks. To think this is a deal weighted heavily in one direction is Moronic.

      • hansob - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        The kid wanted to be set up for life, and didn’t want to take the risk of getting hurt. If he’s a superstar, he’ll make $40M over 8 years instead of $90M, but $40M is still a shit ton of money. Maybe that first $14M is worth shoving off the risk onto the Rays. I know I’d very much consider this deal if I’m the player. Not a news flash, but you can live much better on $14M than $1M if you get hurt or develop Rick Ankiel syndrome (and can’t hit).

      • Alex K - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        It’s an awesome deal for the Rays. They are taking risk, of course, but they also gave themselves cost certainty on a potentially very valuable asset.

        It’s an awesome deal for Moore because he is guaranteed $14 million no matter what happens. His risk is that he is leaving money on the table.

        I love deals like this.

      • Alex K - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        bostonjerry23- His agent lost him nothing. Moore chose to sign the contract.

        Knowing who his agent is I bet that he was encouraged to sign a deal like this, but there is no way he put a gun to his head. If Moore wanted to go year to year he very well could have.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:02 PM

        He’s a pitcher. Given the attrition rate for young pitchers, you grab what you can, when you can. Go for blood after you have a strong financial base.

      • stex52 - Dec 10, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        a 27 year old with 15 MM$ in lifetime earnings? He could blow out his arm in April. He was under team control for the next few years anyway. If he has any sense at all he will be set up for life (moneywise) before he is 30. If he is a budding star, he won’t hit his maximum earning potential until 29 or so anyway. A good deal for him at a low risk for the team.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    This is the kind of deal I am always clamoring about with young guys. Obviously, Bor-ass isn’t this guy’s agent or he would never have areed to something like this. This is a great deal for the Rays and a great deal for the kid. Assuming he stays healthy and stays average, he will make almost $40 million dollars guaranteed. Great deal.

    • wlschneider09 - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      Great deal for the Rays, not so sure about the kid. It isn’t 40 mil guarenteed, it’s 15 mil guarenteed, and then if he’s still healthy and good he’s payed at less than market value for three more years. I look at his potential and think he would have made a whole lot more just in arbitration.

      • randygnyc - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        Well, it is 40 million guaranteed, for the Rays, not the player, should they exercise the 3 years of players’ options they hold.

      • scapistron - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        It is still a good deal for Moore. He got a 115k signing bonus out of the draft. He was in line to make the league minimum for the next 3 years for a grand total of 1.5MM. Then he would get contracts about approximately 40, 60, and 80% of his fair (read free agent) market value. That is all if he maintains his health. One injury would equate to millions.

        Keep in mind he had pretty much no bonus money to fall back on.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:04 PM

        If he just stays average, it’s $40 million. I think he will be at least that provided he doesn’t blow out his arm. And if that happens, he has only(only???) $15 million in his pocket to live on. Not too shabby for someone who, at that point, will be around 26. This is the type of deal that should be encouraged, and not discouraged, by all agents. It’s a risk on both sides, because if he does blow out his arm, the Rays paid $15 million for nothing.

  8. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Friedman and his front office = stupendous.

  9. Detroit Michael - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    In case others are also wondering, Matt Sosnick (the guy featured in Licensed to Deal) is Matt Moore’s agent.

  10. Charles Gates - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Decreasing marginal utility. Every next dollar ‘matters’ a little less than the current one.

    Tough to hard on Moore here. He signed a contract, that if was be given to us, would be the Eff-You money we’d need to do what we really want every day. If Moore’s arm goes kapoof, then he’s in a great financial position. However, if he turns into anything like he’s projected to, sure he’s underpaid for a few years, but then he gets CJ Wilson money (at least) for his next contract. Win, win.

    • Charles Gates - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:23 PM

      And I’m basically stealing someone else’s tweet (I forget who from an hour ago), but I bet Brian Matusz wishes he had signed this deal.

      • Alex K - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:35 PM


      • Charles Gates - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        My bibliography:
        @gibsonandrew: @DempseysArmy you think Brian Matusz wishes he had that contract right now?

  11. professorperry - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    The Rays have jedi mind powers. It’s the only explanation. They may not work on Boras the Hutt, but other than that …

  12. slyordie - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    I wish the Padres did something like this with Cam Maybin.

    • scapistron - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      Would never work for any of the bonus baby players. They achieved financial security the day they signed their draft contract. With 2.65MM in the bank Maybin and his agent would slow play it through arbitration.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:18 PM

        Evan Longoria received a $3 million bonus upon being drafted out of Long Beach State, so that kind of throws that theory out the window.

  13. mojosmagic - Dec 9, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    For this he paid his agent? The agent should be shot.

    • Alex K - Dec 9, 2011 at 2:48 PM

      The agent should be shot for helping his client sign a deal he wanted to sign?

    • hittfamily - Dec 9, 2011 at 5:41 PM

      The kid is set for life after being an 8th round pick and having 9 innings of MLB experience. It is a win-win for all sides, and all sides should be lauded for their compromises and foresight.

  14. stex52 - Dec 10, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Agent made him a good deal. Case closed.

  15. obpedmypants - Dec 10, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    $14m over five years is not at all a tip off. Moore’s rookie contract was probably worth over $10m in terms of value to the Rays. So, in a contract renegotiation, you have to consider that Moore’s new contract should look undervalued by at least that much, because the Rays aren’t just going to give away millions of dollars for no reason.

    The options are the iffy part. Those three years of options are probably worth $8m. Not to get too deep into options pricing, but a lefty with a high 90’s fastball and a 14 k/9 in the minors over 500 innings has some really really high skill variance, and variance makes options more valuable.At least these options aren’t as absurd as the ones Longoria got roped into, but they could cost Moore a lot.

    • obpedmypants - Dec 10, 2011 at 2:05 PM

      *rip off

  16. jaygiants - Dec 10, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    I think they will benefit from locking him up he has good stuff

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