The Rays gave the youngest manager in MLB an unusual contract and it was a brilliant move

Kevin CashBrian Blanco/Getty ImagesKevin Cash’s contract is unusually long for a rookie manager.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost arguably the face of their franchise this offseason when manager Joe Maddon opted out of his contract and joined the Chicago Cubs. The Rays replaced Maddon with Kevin Cash a former catcher with no managing experience, who at 37 is the youngest manager in MLB.

The move was considered a major loss in most circles, but it could turn out to be a huge win for the Rays because of the unusual contract the Rays gave to Cash.

The Rays signed Cash to a 5-year contract according to Jon Heyman of The contract is unusual because, as Heyman points out, most rookie managers in Major League Baseball are given 2- or 3-year contracts. It is also unusual because it makes Cash and Maddon, who signed a 5-year contract with the Cubs, the only managers in MLB signed through the 2019 season.

However, there is one major difference between the contracts of Maddon and Cash and that is, well, cash. While the Cubs will pay Maddon $US25 million over the next five years, the Rays will pay Cash a lot less.

Cash’s exact salary is unknown. However, he will make something above $US600,000 per year according to Marc Topkin of He is also almost certainly making something considerably less than the $US1.8 million Maddon would have made had he stayed with the Rays this season. So if we assume Cash’s salary is in the range of $US600,000-$US1,000,000, that’s $US3-5 million for the next five years.

Not only did the Rays save money and get a promising young manager on the cheap but they gave themselves and Cash some security in a longer deal and it was a genius move.

The problem with shorter contracts is if the manager is successful the team must give them a big raise much earlier in their career when it comes time for their next contract.

If Cash turns out to be a great manager they will probably only have to give him one more contract at a higher rate down the road as even good managers have a shelf-life of 8-10 years with one team. On the other hand, if Cash is not a good manager it won’t cost much to let him go.

The Rays are going to give Cash at least two years to prove his abilities as a manager. Under the worst case scenario the Rays would fire Cash with three years remaining on his deal. That would cost them something like $US2-3 million to make Cash go away, or about the same amount a middle reliever makes per year.

In other words, Cash’s contract is one that is low on risk but loaded with upside.


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