April 4, 2013

Elvis Andrus gets what he wanted: a long-term deal with Rangers

The shortstop’s "family" helps keep him away from free agency.

A perfect free-agency storm was brewing for Elvis Andrus after next season, with three of the highest-spending teams in baseball expected to have a need at shortstop.

He could have had more money than he will make over the next six to nine years, though probably just six, if he had let potential bidding between the Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies escalate ahead of the 2015 season.

But Andrus didn’t want to wait around for the highest bidder. He wanted to stay with the Texas Rangers.

The club announced an eight-year, $120 million contract extension for Andrus on Thursday that includes a vesting option for a ninth year but features a clause that allows him to opt out of the contract in 2018 or 2019.

The Rangers expect that Andrus will choose free agency in 2018, and they’re fine with the prospect of having to renegotiate with him. The bottom line, for now, is that all parties involved are fine with the idea of having him around for at least six more years.

No matter how long he stays, Andrus, the Rangers and Dallas-Fort Worth appear to be a perfect match.

“It was everything,” Andrus said. “I love to play here. This is my family. I’m not going to rest or sleep until I get a World Series. I think of myself as a winner. If I don’t get my ring, if I don’t get this city a ring and this organization a ring, I won’t leave.”

Club CEO Nolan Ryan was not at the afternoon news conference, but general manager Jon Daniels said that he was involved in the decision to pursue an extension for Andrus, an idea that was placed on the Rangers’ off-season agenda after last season.

The extension, which doesn’t begin until his current deal expires after next season, could have a total value of $146.275 million. Andrus will get a 10-team no-trade clause beginning in 2016.

He will make $15 million a year over the first six years and $14 million for the final two. The option year would be for $15 million. Andrus will receive a $2 million signing bonus.

Andrus, who doesn’t turn 25 until Aug. 26, could become a free agent at age 30.

“If he does what we think he’s going to do and stays healthy, the opt-out will most likely come into play,” Daniels said. “It’s an unusual deal that works for both sides.”

But it took a gamble and some tough love to get to this point. It goes back four years when the Rangers moved him from Double A to the major leagues, and includes significant contributions from teammates and coaches.

Andrus’ agent, Scott Boras, said that manager Ron Washington deserves ample credit for the work he did with Andrus on the field and for the way he stayed on Andrus the first three years of his career.

“It’s easy to be of assistance to a guy like Elvis,” Washington said. “The first time I tried to bury him, he accepted it and I told him I was going to keep the pressure on him.”

Andrus, who was acquired in 2007 in the Mark Teixeira trade, later gave credit to Michael Young to welcoming him as the Rangers’ shortstop after a contentious move to third base in 2009. The move, though, was part of the Rangers’ rebuilding process.

“It was very consistent with what we wanted to be about and what we wanted to build, a team that plays an up-tempo, aggressive style that puts a priority on tough at-bats and pitching and defense,” Daniels said.

“As we’ve seen Elvis grow and mature, he epitomizes those things. In a lot of ways he really is everything we’re about.”

Said Andrus: “As a player as you get to the big leagues and start figuring stuff out for yourself, you want to secure your life and secure your family.

“I’m going to feel way more comfortable out there knowing that I have a deal done and have my future with this organization.”

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