The first official day of the 2017 Winter Meetings is in the books, and as expected not much was said or done — at least as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays. Still, a few newsworthy topics broke out of Lake Buena Vista Sunday afternoon.
Uncertainty, both on the side of the players and that of the front office, is the hot-word within the Rays contingent. And with all the talk about potentially entering a rebuilding phase, that precariousness also extends to franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria.
I don’t know what to think, really, Longoria told Marc Topkin via text message on Sunday. I think they have made it pretty clear that they want to cut salary, so I guess that leaves me somewhere in limbo. I think I’ve been pretty up front about wanting to be in Tampa (Bay) for my whole career, but I realize that my window is getting smaller to win a championship.
If they decide to rebuild completely and give everyone up, then I suppose my family and I will adjust.
Aside from the fact that Stu Sternberg is seeking to cut payroll, considering trading several veterans in doing so, an additional factor is that in April Longoria will receive his 10/5 rights — thus allowing the third baseman to gain no-trade rights — which, as Topkin wrote, the Rays refuse to agree to in contracts because it limits their flexibility.
The reason I don’t have a no-trade clause is for situations like this, Longoria said. If the team decides that they want to move in a different direction, they can do that.
And while you’d think the longest tenured Ray would merit special handling, he told Topkin that team officials have not spoken to him about their plans or the situation.
Longoria would likely be of interest to several teams, including the Angels, Cardinals, Giants and Mets.
Bullpen Logjam Breaking Up
A couple of deals that could impact the relief market for the Rays, as it relates to the shopping of All-Star closer Alex Colome, took place on Sunday. Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports, the Athletic) broke the news that Luke Gregerson is expected to sign a two-year, $11-million deal with St. Louis, while Brandon Morrow has come to terms with the Cubs on a two-year, $20-million agreement.
Gregerson is coming off a mediocre year, while Morrow was used extensively by the Dodgers and has a history of injuries. Because of these things, it is thought that both teams could still have interest in Colome, who has racked up 84 saves over the past two seasons, and is projected to make just $5.5-million in the first of three arbitration seasons.
The Rays are on both sides of the relief market though, and are expected to add some veteran relief arms.
Source: Sergio Romo is scheduled to be activated by the Charros de Jalisco baseball team in Mexico this week. A group of teams that includes the Nationals, Rays, Blue Jays and White Sox have already expressed interest in the veteran reliever.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) December 7, 2017
Sergio Romo, who performed to a 1.47 ERA/2.96 FIP/.176 OBA/.233 OBP/.262 SLG/0.85 WHIP line over 30-2/3 innings with the Rays last season, would be a good, affordable candidate to return to the team next season.
As Mat Germain (DRaysBay) pointed out, some of Romo’s 2017 success with Tampa Bay can be attributed to the decreased reliance on his slider, the rekindled use of his changeup, and that he opted to throw more hard stuff overall (see: the charts from Brooks Baseball and this). His stuff played well in the Trop, and presumably would again.
It also doesn’t hurt that Romo was very appreciative by the Rays’ belief in him after a trying first-half campaign with the Dodgers.
Germain also noted that Fernando Salas should be viewed as another affordable target for Tampa Bay.
The New What Next
Next on the docket: Kevin Cash will address the media on Monday morning, kicking off what could be an exciting day of Hot-Stove action.
— Don’t forget to read our 2017 Rays/Winter Meetings primer if you haven’t already.
— Kudos to Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) for coming up with a user friendly surplus value calculator with which to use during the 2017 offseason.