ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria might have gotten more money in the future, but he liked the idea of finishing his career with the Rays. He and the club shared that vision, resulting in a contract extension that could keep the All-Star third baseman in a Rays uniform through the 2023 season.
"In signing this contract, I kind of wanted to show that I'm committed to this organization," Longoria said. "Obviously you look at a lot of comparable contracts and what guys [he is comparable to are signing contracts for now], it was obviously a big deal to be able to get what they were commanding when they signed their deals. But there's no telling what the market is going to look like in five years. Obviously contracts are going up and they are probably going to continue to go up."
Longoria's new contract incorporates the salaries for 2013-16 from his original contract and extends six more years through 2022 for an additional $100 million. The deal includes a club option for 2023.
"This is a very exciting day for us, for Evan to have the confidence in us and for us to have the confidence in him to re-up, so to speak, for the long haul is quite exciting and we're looking forward to a lot more great things going forward," said Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg.
The Rays selected Longoria with the third overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, making him the first player drafted under Sternberg and Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. On April 18, 2008, only six games into his Major League career, the Rays signed Longoria to a multiyear contract worth a guaranteed $17.5 million over six years and potentially $44 million over nine seasons, including the club options for 2014-16.
Sternberg noted that the Rays drafted Longoria with the belief that he and the organization would "grow with each other and together accomplish great things."
"That is why the Rays and Evan signed a long-term contract in 2008, and it is why we are extending our commitments today," Sternberg said. "Evan has clearly become a cornerstone player and a fixture in our organization. We are proud of what we have accomplished these past seven years, and I expect the best is yet to come."
Longoria made it clear his intention was not to squeeze every penny out of the organization he could, particularly at the risk of having the Rays not signing other players because of his contract.
"I told them from the beginning that I didn't want to be the one sucking up all the payroll so we can't afford anybody else, because it's not giving us the best chance to win," Longoria said.
The contract does not include a no-trade clause primarily because he did not insist on having one included in the deal.
"I didn't want one," Longoria said. "We went back and forth about it and we kind of talked in the beginning briefly about having kind of like a stipulated no-trade clause to where if they were going to trade me, it would only be to a certain few teams. But in the end, I kind of said, if they don't want me, I don't want to be somewhere I'm not wanted."
Though clearly motivated by winning, Longoria did not ask for assurances from the organization that it would continue to do whatever was necessary to win, either.
"I told [Friedman] from the beginning, I want to win," Longoria said. "If we're not going to be able to put guys around me that are going to help us win, I can't do it by myself. One guy can't do it all on his own. It doesn't matter how good you are. You need a team to win. He obviously understands that. He knows that. Just knowing him and his personality gives me all the assurances I need that he's going to do his best to put guys around me to win."
The 27-year-old Longoria is a three-time American League All-Star, two-time Rawlings AL Gold Glove winner at third base and was the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year. After five seasons, he already ranks second on the Rays' all-time list with 130 home runs, third with 456 RBIs and fourth with 161 doubles. Longoria is one of 11 active players to average at least 25 home runs and 90 RBIs over his first five seasons.
In 2012, Longoria was limited to 74 games due to a partially torn left hamstring which he suffered on April 30. He also missed a good chunk of the season in 2011 due to an oblique injury, which cast Longoria as injury-prone and added a risk factor to the deal.
"I think there's risk essentially in everything we do," Friedman said. "So in terms of the dollars, the number of years, there's certainly risk. ... Everything we do has an element of risk, has an element of risk for the player, and I think the most important thing is that both sides go to the table and want something to happen. It gives it a much better chance than not of that happening. And all sides understand and appreciate the risk associated with it."
Despite missing more than half of the season, Longoria hit .289 with 17 home runs, and 55 RBIs. The Rays were 41-44 during Longoria's absence and 47-27 with him in the starting lineup. The Rays scored nearly a run more per game during his time on the active roster. Friedman said he didn't have to see what happened in 2012 to understand Longoria's value.
"I think we knew the significance that Evan has on this team," Friedman said. "It goes beyond just what he can do in the batter's box. He's a premier defender at third base. He has value on the bases. He does a lot of different things to help the team win beyond what he does in the batter's box. And it speaks to how much he wants to win and the commitment that he has to winning, that he puts as much time into those areas of his game as he does his hitting."
Longoria said the idea to sign an extension -- which had been hatching since last spring, did not stem from any insecurity he has about being injured in the future.
"That's the last thing I want to do is take somebody's money and never play again," Longoria said. "The game is more important to me than any sum of money or any contract that I could sign. Without having baseball, having money is no fun. I enjoy coming to the ballpark every day and doing what I do and that's what's more important."
Longoria underwent a minor procedure on his left hamstring known as a "hamstring debridement" on Tuesday which he said basically "cleaned up" his hamstring.
"With the procedure that I had, we obviously talked in depth with the physician about the pros and cons of it," Longoria said. "It's a procedure that's been done to a lot of guys who have come back in two months playing at a high level, professional athletes. With the time that we have now, there was no doubt that I would be able to recover and be at 100 percent or close to it at the start of Spring Training."