Money being thrown around the world of MLB, even by baseball standards, has to be considered absurd this offseason. Just recently, a career .255 hitter in the form of B.J. Upton received $75 million from the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.
We can definitely expect this to continue moving forward. While some teams (New York Yankees in specific) will be looking to be fiscally creative due to the luxary tax, others will go out there and spend money.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who don't have an endless amount of money in their payroll budget, just dropped $100 million on a player, Evan Longoria, who has missed 117 games over the last two seasons and has seen his production decline to an extent since a breakout 2009 campaign.
His WAR( Wins Above Replacement) numbers have decline over the last three seasons as well. According to Baseball Reference, those numbers dropped from 7.8 in 2010 to 7.2 in 2011. He would have accumulated a WAR under 5.0 if he had played the duration of the 2012 season as well.
Are those numbers worthy of $100 million spread over the course of an additional six seasons, adding $36 million to his existing deal? I am not too sure about that they are.
What I will say is that Longoria would have received a lot more on the open market if he repeated his performances of 2009 over the couple next seasons, at which point a team like the New York Yankees would have outbid them. In reality, Tampa Bay has done an amazing job building its team through the farm system and negotiating extensions prior to a specific player seeing those green dollar signs. As it relates to Longoria, they have done so a few times in his short MLB playing career.
As evidenced with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox in recent history, spending a whole lot of money on the free agent market guarantees absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.
With the pitching that Tampa currently has, it needs to add a strong presence in the lineup to make up for the loss of the aforementioned Upton to Atlanta. While it might not be able to do that this offseason, it sure the hell made sure that Longoria will be part of the long-term plans. He will join Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and a few youngsters to form a decent batting order behind that stellar pitching.
ESPN had Longoria as the No. 2 overall fantasy third baseman heading into the 2012 season behind Jose Bautista and just ahead of Adrian Beltre. This projection obviously didn't turn out too well for those who drafted Longoria that high due to his injury issues.
Pro-rated over the course of an entire 162-game schedule, I would indicate that Longoria is the No. 4 ranked third fantasy third baseman in baseball behind the aforementioned Bautista and Beltre as well as Miguel Cabrera with the defending AL Champion' Detroit Tigers.
Projected 2013 splits: .295/.370/.530, 26 homers, 102 RBI's and 175 hits.