The Tampa Bay Rays have signed second baseman Logan Forsythe to a two-year deal in lieu of arbitration, and added an option for his first year of free agency in 2018. He receives a $2.5 million bonus, and a guaranteed overall commitment of $10.25 million.
Forsythe transformed into a competent starting second baseman for the Rays last season, and flashed defense on par with the best in baseball (even if he was snubbed from a golden glove nomination).
The deal includes a $1 million salary for 2016, and a $5.75 million salary for 2017, which would have been his final year of arbitration, and includes an option for $8.5 million in 2018. Forsythe can alternatively be released to free agency with a $1 million buyout.
Interestingly, that $8.5 million option could blossom into $11 million if he proves to be the every day second baseman he became in 2015:
Forsythe 2018 option base can escalate in 500K chunks to 2.5M increase based on plate appearances— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2016
As a part time player, Forsythe put up 73 and 79 wRC+ off the Rays bench, a below average performance on offense, but has only succeeded as a full time player.
He posted a 110 wRC+ in half a season for the Padres prior to his Rays acquisition, and then a 126 wRC+ as the starter last season, dominating southpaws in particular to the tune of a 164 wRC+.
Also filling in at multiple positions around the diamond when required, Forsythe was named the team MVP for 2015.
Forsythe was projected to make $3.3 million in salary arbitration this season, and begins this deal with a $3.5 million commitment for 2016.
Here is more from the team press release:
"Logan established himself as one of our core players with his consistent play both offensively and defensively," said Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom. "Last season was his first opportunity to play regularly, and he emerged as a leader, a key offensive contributor and a Gold Glove caliber defender at second base."
Forsythe, who turned 29 yesterday, was chosen as the Don Zimmer Award winner as the team's most valuable player by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He established career highs in nearly every offensive category, leading the team with a .281 (152-for-540) batting average, .359 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage. In addition, his 17 home runs, 68 RBI, 152 hits, 33 doubles, 52 extra-base hits and 153 games played all ranked second on the team behind third baseman Evan Longoria.
Among American League second basemen, Forsythe ranked second in on-base percentage, fourth in RBI and third in home runsâtrailing Minnesota's Brian Dozier (28) and Seattle's Robinson Cano (21). No other second baseman in the majors could match his combination of homers and OBP. He ranked second among second basemen with 5.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to Baseball Reference, behind Detroit's Ian Kinsler (6.0). Following the season, he was named as the American League's top breakout defender at his position by Baseball Info Solutions.