The 2017 GM Meetings kicked off on Monday, as the 30 general managers, including Erik Neander of the Tampa Bay Rays gathered in Orlando. And while these meetings won’t produce the same buzz as next month’s Winter Meetings, that doesn’t mean this week’s event won’t help shape the Rays’ offseason.
Neander conceded that the Rays have some heavy lifting to do before pitchers and catchers report to camp in January, and that foundation will be laid this week:
You look at the strength of some of the rosters that were present throughout the playoffs, certainly (the Astros and Dodgers) in the World Series, and you see the high-end talent that those teams possess, you see the depth they have of high-end talent.
We have some work to do. We are not one piece away from having rosters that I think on any given night can stand toe-to-toe with clubs like those that went deep in the postseason. We know that. We recognize that.
Yet because of the extensive number of staff changes around Major League Baseball, trades are expected to be slow in developing this offseason. That is, don’t expect fireworks this week.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 13, 2017
When the time is right to address their needs, the Rays will likely start by filling glaring openings at first base and in the bullpen and potentially upgrading elsewhere. Yet don’t expect the Rays to slip into fire-sale mode — ala the Cubs prior to 2014 and Astros prior to 2015 — this offseason.
You spend some time thinking about it, Rays GM Erik Neander said, because you’ve seen the recent outcomes of those clubs, and that’s something that shouldn’t be lost with this.
Although, he quickly added, probably not.
Instead Neander will be tasked with finding a less painful way to rebuild, limit costs, and remain competitive in the AL East. That probably includes trading higher-salaried players like Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson, Brad Miller, and maybe Alex Colome, knowing full well that making deals creates more holes.
We believe in the core of players we have. Our farm system is as strong as it’s been in quite some time, with a lot of players I think are close to graduating, Neander said. So there is optimism for some of the players we have here and our chances to compete. But we’re not that close at the same time.
We need to be open and cognizant of that and try to do the best we can to provide opportunity to our young players, to provide the right opportunity to our veteran players and leaders of the club. But it could go in a lot of different directions in terms of how we ultimately find our way to get there.
“What about Archer?” you may be asking. It would appear that the staff ace is safe for now.
#Rays GM Erik Neander: “(Chris Archer) is a guy we need to find a way to build around.”
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 12, 2017
Neander told MLB Radio Network that while they will “hear teams out” on Archer, they are more inclined to “find a way to build around” the right-hander. The question begs, how much leeway will Stu Sternberg give Neander to make the necessary moves to make the Rays a competitive team five years after their last postseason appearance?
Historically speaking, the Rays have made some big trades around this point in the offseason. in November of 2014 the team traded away Jeremy Hellickson and Joel Peralta, and in November of 2015 Nathan Karns and CJ Riefenhauser to Seattle for Brad Miller and Logan Morrison.
Nevertheless it still seems like Neander and the Rays are firmly in wait-and-see mode at the moment.
— Forget what you may have heard, Topkin wrote that pitcher Alex Cobb has yet to decide whether to take the Rays’ one-year $17.4 million qualifying offer or decline it to get a better deal in free agency, with the Rays getting draft pick compensation. FanRag Sports had reported Monday he had decided to decline, which still seems most likely.
— Is it too early to call Ken Hagan a prick at best? First off, his lack of transparency is in the stadium saga is questionable at best. Then there is his glaring attempt to effect the St. Petersburg mayoral election by surprising seemingly everyone with his Ybor stadium site announcement. And now this, Hagan is expected to ask the county to spend more money so he can go after citizen watchdogs who filed ethics complaints against him. Hillsborough County citizens, how have you elected this man into office multiple times since 2002?
— Noah Pransky – WTSP (@noahpransky) November 13, 2017