Third baseman Evan Longoria has played only six major-league games, but the Tampa Bay Rays are on the verge of signing him long-term, according to major-league sources.
The details of the contract are not yet known, but it is believed that the deal will be for six years in the $17 million range with option scenarios that will enable the Rays to buy out two years of Longoria's free agency.
The contract, to be announced at 1 p.m. ET, also is expected to include escalators that will enable Longoria to add to his guaranteed money if he develops into a major star.
Longoria, the third overall pick in the 2006 draft, has batted .300 with one home run and three RBIs. The Rays are treating him almost like a high NFL or NBA draft pick, paying him before he is an accomplished player.
The Rays sent Longoria to Class AAA at the start of the season even though he was widely considered to be major-league ready. At that time, some in baseball thought the Rays wanted to keep him in the minors for a set period of time so they could keep him for an extra season before he became a free agent. The Rays, however, dismissed such talk, saying that they ultimately would seek to sign Longoria long-term.
Longoria, 22, is represented by Paul Cohen, who in January negotiated a six-year, $31 million contract for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the largest deal ever given to a player with less than two years of major-league service.