Sunday, December 2, 2012

Longoria Locked Up, Price is Wright

Earlier this week the Tampa Bay Rays locked up Evan Longoria with a six year, $100 million contract extension that will keep him with the Rays through the next decade.

It's rare to see Tampa's thrifty front office spend so much money at once, but Longoria is worthy investment. Since winning the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year award, he has been arguably the game's top third baseman. In his five years he's batted .276/.361/.516, good for a 137 OPS+, while averaging 26 home runs and 91 RBI per season. He's been worth 29.3 fWAR over that timeframe, making him more valuable than any position player in the sport not named Albert Pujols or Ryan Braun.

Injuries have hampered Longo over the past two seasons. He missed a month in 2011 with an oblique injury and spent half the season on the shelf in 2012. His torn hammy cost his Rays a playoff spot; they were a sub-.500 team with him on the DL but won nearly two-thirds of their games when he wasn't. However, Longoria is entering his age-27 season and poised for a monster season that could net him his first MVP award. Unless the Rays score a big bat this offseason, he will have to pick up the slack for B.J. Upton as well.

On Friday the New York Mets inked David Wright, their franchise cornerstone, to an eight-year deal worth $138 million. The deal represents the largest contract in team history, nudging out their six-year $137.5 million commitment to Johan Santana.

Wright has spent his entire career with the Mets, who drafted him in the first round 11 years ago and watched him develop into the NL's top third baseman. Since debuting in 2004 he's made six All-Star teams, batted .301/.381/.506 and averaged 23 home runs/91 RBI per season. He's been worth 47 fWAR in his career, a total surpassed only by Pujols, Chase Utley, Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera during that time.

Give Credit to Wright for sticking with the Mets. He's endured some lean years and devastating collapses with them, and given their bleak outlook I don't think anyone would have blamed him for abandoning ship. The fan favorite will continue to provide veteran leadership and be a good example for up-and-comers Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, and Ruben Tejada. Hopefully the front office rewards him by bringing back NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and building around the dynamic duo in the future.
Wright turns 30 later this month, which makes this extension somewhat risky. It's quite possible that we've seen the best of Wright and that he'll only decline from this point forward. He hasn't been a model of consistency lately:

2008: 33 HR 124 RBI .924 OPS
2009: 10 HR  72 RBI  .837 OPS
2010: 29 HR 103 RBI .856 OPS
2011: 14 HR  61 RBI  .771 OPS
2012: 21 HR  93 RBI  .883 OPS

On the bright side, Wright improved his approach at the dish this past year by trimming five percent off his K rate and upping his walk rate to 12.1 %, the highest it's been since his monster 2008 campaign. David Ortiz made similar improvements the past two seasons and has remained an elite hitter well into his thirties, so if Wright sustains his plate discipline he should have several more productive years in front of him.

And ohbytheway, he'll still be making only half as much as the other third baseman in New York, a former superstar by the name of A-Rod.

No comments:

Post a Comment