Turns out my ranting and raving about Ryan Howard's arbitration payout wasn't just complete lunacy. As more and more young talent gets locked up long term, the Rays took things to their logical conclusion, signing Evan Longoria for six years, 17 million dollars after Longoria's 24th big league plate appearance. The deal has options that can extend this into a nine year, 44 million dollar contract.
I really can't see any downside to doing this for a guy that looks as can't miss as Longoria. Even if Longoria gets hurt today and never plays another game, the Rays are only out 2.8 million dollars a year for the life of the contract, or one less journeyman middle reliever a year. If it works out, then they get to avoid playing in an arbitration market that will probably see Hanley Ramirez break Howard's record. Ii'd say that's worth the risk of not having another Al Reyes equivelant.
On a completely unrelated note, no Dodger with less than nine years of service time is under contract for 2009. Kuroda doesn't count.
Update>>Diamondback's head of player development A.J. Hinch writes about how little minor leaguers get paid in comparison to their big league counterparts. A great article, espcially if you believe baseball players are overpaid.