The Tampa Bay Rays, Ben Zobrist agree to a five-year contract extension

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Ben Zobrist.jpgMarc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays have agreed to a contract extension with 2B/RF Ben Zobrist that could amount to a five-year deal.  Three years — which would be his arbitration years — are guaranteed. The next two years — covering 2014 and 2015, which would be his first two years of free-agency — are team options.  The dollars are not yet known but should be announced later today.

This is the second extension of note this spring which contains a significant team option as opposed to one of those tack-on team options at the end of a long, lucrative deal. Adam Lind was the other.

This is smart for the teams, of course, as it hedges against uncertainty and all of that.  For the players, it probably makes sense if there’s a legitimate question about whether or not a big free agency payday is in the offing. Lind, for example, is a DH and as we all know, the DH market is horrible. Adding those team options makes a lot of sense for him.

It probably makes sense for Zobrist too, given that he’s already in his age 29 season.  He’ll be 33 and 34 in those two years of free agency subject to the option years, and if recent history shows anything, you don’t want to be hitting the free agent market at that age unless you’re a total stud.  I like Ben Zobrist a lot, but he’s not quite in that category.

Obviously final judgment rests upon how much money is involved, but at least in terms of structure, this is a good deal for both parties.

Red Sox Triple-A team to ban people named Tyler and Austin from stadium on May 5 and 6 as part of promotion

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The Pawtucket Red Sox, obviously the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox, have come up with an interesting promotion for the weekend of May 5 and 6, when they host the Yankees’ Triple-A team from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

This, of course, references last week’s benches-clearing fracas between the Red Sox and Yankees that involved Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin. Kelly slid hard into second base, which upset Brock Holt. The benches emptied as the two jawed at each other, but no punches were thrown. Later in the game, Kelly threw at Austin and the benches emptied again. Punches were thrown this time and both players were given suspensions.

The major league Red Sox visit the Yankees May 8-10. As far as we’re aware, people named Joe or Kelly are allowed to attend.