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.

No lease extension, but O’s and governor tout partnership

orioles camden yards
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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.