When Matt Moore signed his 5-year, $14 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, it had many saying – us included – that it was another in a series of shrewd moves that Andrew Friedman had pulled off. And, make no mistake, it could.
But, in looking closer at the contract, it does have the capacity to be a windfall for the pitcher, according to new information through The AP that has come with the paperwork for the deal being filed.
For one, the deal – depending on performance – could top out at “$37.5 million over eight seasons and includes escalators that could increase the total to $39.75 million depending on starts and innings from 2014-18.” So, that 5/$14M now seems like the lowest end of Moore’s contract spectrum.
On the “straight side” of the deal, there is a $500,000 signing bonus, plus annual base salary of $1 million in 2012-14, $3 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015.. From there, the backloaded deal sees a $7 million club option for 2017 that includes a $2.5 million buyout. If the Rays exercise the option year, the club has a $9 million option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout. According to the report, “The final year of the deal gives the Rays a $10 million option for 2019 with a $750,000 buyout.”
The deal is loaded with incentive clauses. If Moore pitches 600 innings from 2014-16, his 2017 salary increases by $500,000 or a possible $7.5 million in the club option year. Moore’s “2018 salary would go up by $250,000 each for 85 starts or 570 innings from 2015-17, 90 starts or 600 innings and 95 starts or 630 innings,” according to The AP report. To add, Moore’s 2019 salary increases by another half-a-million dollars for each for 98 starts or 600 innings from 2016-18 and 66 starts or 400 innings from 2017-18.
All this for a player that had one start and two relief appearances last year when he was called up in mid-Sept. There are risks with such a deal for young talent, but as the Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitski deals showed, clubs with limited revenues may attempt to wrap up young talent through salary arbitration and part of a player’s free agency years in a gamble that could save them millions of dollars. The Moore deal, while packed with options that could pay off for him, in actuality is loaded with methods by which the Rays could get out of the contract. Only if Moore becomes the next “David Price” of the organization, would the Rays need to shell out larger sums, and Moore controls his destiny based on durability for the bonuses. If Moore hits all the marks in the deal, and he’s given the option years, the Rays will likely still get a big bang for their buck. After all, at that point Moore would be considered one of the premier young pitchers in the league.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook