Like the Rays did with Evan Longoria several years ago, the team has locked up a promising young player well before they needed to, reaching a five-year, $14 million deal with pitcher Matt Moore, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler confirms. The Rays also have options for 2017, 18 and 19 and could be worth as much as $39.75 million over the eight years, with escalators that could push it to more than $40 million.
Moore, 22, has started just two big-league games, one of them a playoff game, winning both. Moore made two relief appearances in September before starting against the Yankees on Sept. 22, throwing five shutout innings and striking out 11. He also started Game 1 of the American League division series against the Rangers, allowing just two hits and no runs in seven innings. He also allowed a run in three innings of relief in Game 4. He and the Angels' Mike Trout will be the front-runners for the American League Rookie of the Year in 2012.
Longoria signed a six-year, $17.5 million extension (with three club options) after just six games in the big leagues in 2008.
Moore's deal will buy away two years of arbitration and if he lives up to his potential (with options for the third year of arbitration and first two years of free agency), it could be a major bargain for the Rays. It also gives Moore an immediate raise over the big-league minimum. Moore was an eighth-round pick in 2007 and didn't receive a huge signing bonus.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.