Sometimes, a team pulls off a move that just makes you sit back in awe. Today, the Rays are that team, signing Matt Moore to a 5 year deal worth nearly $14 million. If that wasn’t enough of a bargain, they also hold club options for the next three years, meaning that Moore could make $40 million over 8 seasons.
You just have to tip your cap to the Rays management on this one. Signing a player like Moore, who has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the game, to a contract that will pay him $10 million in his 8th professional season is just unreal. At a time when pitchers are earning 15-23 million per year during their free agent seasons, Moore will only earn $10 million.
There’s always a risk in signing a player who is as unproven as Moore. However, given how little the Rays are paying him, Moore would have to be one of the worst pitchers in baseball in order to make this anything less than a steal for the Rays.
Just as a comparison of what some pitchers made towards the end of their arbitration years, regardless of whether they went year by year or were signed to an extension:
Felix Hernandez – 20.3M over his arbitration years and 38M over his first 2 free agent years
Tim Lincecum – 23M over his first two arbitration years, and likely another 15-17M for this season in arbitration
Justin Verlander – 23.175M for arbitration, 40M over his first two free agent seasons.
And Matt Moore? 15M over his arbitration years, and 19.5M over his first two free agent seasons. Or nearly half of what the other guys are making.
Again, there’s no guarantee that Moore turns into a Verlander or a Lincecum. But there’s no question that is his upside, and in his limited time he was absolutely dominant. In his 3 appearances during the regular season, Moore went 1-0 in 9 1/3 innings, striking out 15 and walking 3 while posting a 2.89 ERA. He saved his best for the post season, going 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA against a lethal Texas offence.
The Rays have potentially saved themselves $25-30 million over the life of this deal, a significant amount for a team that’s likely to have a $60 million payroll.
Just an outstanding job by the Rays here.