As if this season could not get any better…
The Rays announced the signing of uber-utilty player Ben Zobrist to a long-term deal.
Of course, this is one of those moves that is quite typical of the Rays and has led to the success they have enjoyed the last 3 seasons. They identify key players to the team’s success in the future. They ensure that these players are for real. They swoop in and sign the players to a long-term deal that could be seen in some circles as a bargain.
Zobrist receives what amounts to a 5 year deal worth $30 million. The final two years of the deal are club options, which gives the Rays complete control over the 1B/2B/SS/3B/RF/CF/LF for the foreseeable future.
This the type of deal that has kept Carl Crawford in town, gave Rocco Baldelli security, and secured Evan Longoria at the hot corner for many more years. In each instance, the deals were for manageable money–manageable for a team of the Rays’ size and location, that is.
GM Andrew Friedman said at the press conference that giving Zobrist a deal such as this is something the Rays are happy to do with any player who displays “ability, work ethic, and character” (raysbaseball.com).
With the threat of losing Crawford at the end of this season (or sooner), the Rays HAD to make a move such as this to keep one of their key pieces in the lineup for years to come.
Congrats to Ben on getting just what a good guy should get: appreciation.
And let’s hope that the Rays can get something done with Crawford so they can keep this nucleus intact for the future…