The Rays solidify their future and prove again they’re among MLB’s smartest teams

Matt Moore will achieve a lifetime of financial security. He may give up some total dollars, but it’s a spectacularly good tradeoff. Evan Longoria made the same decision at the beginning of his major league career in 2008. David Price, James Shields, Wade Davis and all signed long-term deals early in their careers.

Today, we’re reminded why the Tampa Bay Rays are so good at what they do. They do not complain that they don’t have as much money as some other teams. Instead, they’re smart and creative and aggressive.

Moore, 22, is one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. In two years, he has jumped from Class A ball to the major leagues. He ended up helping the Rays make the playoffs for the third time in four years. He has dazzling stuff. He also has a toughness and a self-confidence that only the special ones have.

His first major league start was in the 156th game of the regular season, and with the Rays desperate for a victory, he pitched five shutout innings at Yankee Stadium. How’s that for a memory?

His second start came in Game 1 of the playoffs, and he nailed that one too with seven shutout innings against the Rangers.

That he was every bit as good as advertised allowed the Rays to see the future a bit more clearly. In David Price, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson and Moore, they have four gifted starting pitchers, all of them 26 years or under.

Rather than watch the clock tick on Moore’s arbitration and free-agent years, the Rays moved aggressive to offer him financial security and to give themselves some cost control. The Rays and Moore have agreed to a deal that could be worth $40 million. That’s the number that’s important to Moore.

For the Rays, there’s another significant number: eight years. With one negotiation, the Rays have taken care of his arbitration years and two years of free agency. If Moore is as good as he appears to be, the Rays will have one part of their rotation taken care of through 2019.

This deal is similar to the six-year, $17.5-million deal Longoria got before he’d established himself as one of baseball’s 10 best players. He got financial security, the Rays got control of him through 2015.

As GM Andrew Friedman attempts to keep a competitive team on the field, the Rays are also attempting to put together a long-term stadium solution that would produce the resources to allow the payroll to increase as players like Longoria and Price hit their free agency years.

Until that ballpark is a reality, they have to be aggressive, creative and smart. They proved again today that they’re all three.

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