UPDATE: Rangers, Elvis Andrus reach an agreement on a $120 million extension

26 Comments

UPDATEJon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the deal is done.

2:42 AM: Despite the presence of Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, the Rangers have decided to lock up Elvis Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million deal, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.

Rosenthal reports that the contract would supersede Andrus’ current deal, which will pay him $11.25 million total for 2013-14, essentially making this a six-year, $109 million extension. Heyman, on the other hand, says the eight-year, $120 million extension will kick in after his current deal, locking up Andrus for the next 10 years.

It’s actually a pretty big difference, in that Rosenthal has Andrus making $18.2 million per year for six years, while Heyman’s extension would be for $15 million per year for eight years. I’m going to guess that Heyman has it right; the latter deal would seem to me to be more palatable to the Rangers.

Obviously, the Rangers’ hope here is that the 24-year-old Andrus will continue to improve at the plate, as well he should. The four-year veteran established new highs in average (.286), OBP (.349) and slugging (.378) last year. He was also perfectly solid in 2011, hitting .279/.347/.361. One of the AL’s best defensive shortstops, he’s worth $15 million per year at the moment. Of course, his range figures to decline with age, but his bat should make up for it in his late-20s and he should still last as a shortstop well into his 30s.

As for Profar, this now makes him the Rangers’ second baseman of the future, which puts Ian Kinsler’s role in question. The Rangers could trade Kinsler this summer if they fall out of contention, but it’s more likely that they’ll shift him to first base or an outfield corner and keep him around for 2014 and beyond. He’s in the first year of a five-year, $75 million contract.

Andrus would have been eligible for free agency for the first time after 2014. Because of Profar’s presence, he had been mentioned in trade rumors, most notably in the Justin Upton talks with Arizona. The Rangers, though, never appeared interested in moving him.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
10 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.