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Tampa Bay Rays Sign Matt Moore To 5 Year, $14M Deal

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This news from Jerry Crasnick, ESPN:

#Rays reach agreement with pitcher Matt Moore on 5-year, guaranteed $14M contract, source says

The deal includes several club options that could raise value to $37.5M over 8 years. It could top $40M if he hits escalators. #Rays

So the Rays now have Matt Moore locked up for eight years for a maximum of $40 million? Well, I guess he'll be starting 2012 in the majors.

Moore analysis (couldn't resist) on this move and its implications below the jump.

Make no mistake: this deal is an absolute bargain. As he showed at the end of last season, Matt Moore is one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, and through this stage of his career, he compares favorably to such studs as Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum, Tommy Hanson, and Jered Weaver.

Through his Arb2 season -- which is where Moore's guaranteed part of the deal ends and the option years pick up -- Tim Lincecum made $27 million (and will get a haul in arbitration this year). Jered Weaver was paid $13 million over those years, but then signed a 5 year, $85 million extension that pays him an average of $17 million per year.

So not only are the Rays getting a great value on Moore through the first five seasons of his career ($2.8 million AAV), they're also getting a bargain on his Arb3 season and two years of free agency ($8.5 million AAV).

This move is absolutely crucial for the Rays' long term success, as David Price's current situation shows. The Rays waited to sign Price to an extension -- or else he didn't want to sign one initially, who knows? -- and he's now set to get a hefty raise in arbitration this season. Considering Price will likely make $7-8 million in Arb1 this season, he will likely get around $12-13 million in 2013 and become instant trade fodder. And if the Rays were to approach him about an extension right now, odds are that Price would not be willing to take enough of a "hometown discount" in order to make the long-term risk viable for the Rays.

So unless the Rays wanted to risk losing another ace pitcher after only a handful of seasons, they had to lock up Moore before he became a star. Now that they have him signed for eight seasons, it makes the idea of losing Price more palatable; after all, both Price and Moore are hard-throwing lefties, and Moore has shown he has a good chance of becoming as good a pitcher as Price, if not better.

With this move, the Rays now have some impressive long-term starting pitching depth:

Moore4_medium

Moore is essentially going to be the Rays' ace that they build around for the next eight years, and they'll be able to match him up with Shields for (hopefully) the next 2-3 seasons. And despite Davis' poor showing last season, it still seems likely to me that the Rays keep him due to his upside and his contract status. Even if he only ever becomes a league average starter, he's valuable at that price.

Next up on the extension train? Jeremy Hellickson, pretty please.