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Tampa Bay Rays Sign Phenom Matt Moore To Long-Term Contract

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed pitching stud Matt Moore to a five year, $14 million contract, with three team options that could keep Moore in Tampa Bay until he's 30 years old.

According to Jerry Crasnick from ESPN, the Tampa Bay Rays have reached a long-term agreement with top pitching prospect Matt Moore. Moore will be paid a guaranteed $14 million from 2012-2016, and there are three team options on the deal that could push its total value as high as $40 million and keep Moore in Tampa Bay until he's 30 years old.

Make no mistake: this deal is a 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 StrasburgTim LincecumTommy 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.

To join in the conversation about this move, head on over to SB Nation's Rays blog, DRaysBay.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.