It’s been mentioned on a few occasions now, that the Rays will be raising their payroll from $42 MM, to somewhere in the range of $50-$55 MM, at least for the next couple of seasons. Interestingly enough, in a tweet from DRaysbay Andrew Friedman has suggested that the Rays “do not work on a hard and fast payroll number. Flexibility to spend future dollars on today’s’ payroll”. I like the cut of his jib! Also worth mentioning, the Rays are in talks with Kotchman regarding his future at 1B with the Rays. Friedman noted that there is “little chance of Zobrist (moving) to 1B.”
The Rays agreed to on a one-year deal with reliever Joel Peralta, avoiding arbitration. Peralta made $925,000 while having a strong first season with the Rays in 2011, posting a 2.93 ERA in 67 2/3 of work in 71 games, with an 8.1 strikeout per nine innings ratio, a 2.4 walks per nine innings ratio, and a 27% ground ball rate. It’s projected that Peralta will make $2.175 million in 2012 with no incentives.
The Rays now have five remaining arbitration eligible players: Jeff Niemann, David Price, B.J. Upton, the newly acquired Burke Badenhop, and J.P. Howell.
According to a tweet from Tampa Bay Rays beat writer, Marc Topkin, the Rays have non-tendered Andy Sonnanstine’s contract.
Conversely, Tampa Bay has tendered the contracts of their newest acquisition, RHP Burke Badenhop, as well as JP Howell (D’oh), Jeff Niemann, Joel Peralta, David Price, and BJ Upton. All of the above are arbitration eligible.
I can’t say I’m too surprised at their decision to non-tender Sonny’s contract. I am shocked beyond belief, however, with their decision on Howell’s contract. We here at Raysbaseball.co predicted a week or so ago, that the Rays would non-tender both Sonny and Howell as a means to save $2.4 million. I’d have to question whether this is a case of player loyalty or sane decision making?
This just in: Kelly Shoppach, in a tweet by Jerry Crasnick, has agreed on 1-yr, $1.35 million deal with the hated Red Sox. The official announcement on the deal is expected later today.
Opinionated and objective ex-Ray (of sorts), Dirk Hayhurst just posted a blog offering his thoughts on the Albert Pujols and Matt Moore signings, among other things. Check it out here: Puljols, Moore, and Fickle Fans.
The Rays just locked up former uber-prospect and current rookie sensation, Matt Moore, to a five year, $14 million deal. Reminiscent of the 2008 deal with Evan Longoria, Moore’s deal is precedent setting because it is the first deal of its kind for a pitcher with less than a years service time, and tops any deal signed with a pitcher, with less than two years service under his belt. The deal includes club options covering Moore’s third arbitration year, as well as his first two free agent years. If those options are exercised, the deal could be worth $37.5 million over the course of eight years. It could also exceed $40MM with escalators.
Mind you, Matt wasn’t going anywhere. Moore is under team control for six years. It does, however, remove any questions as to where he’ll be come the start of the season. In a nutshell, it makes Moore a stronger candidate for the Rays opening day rotation.
Now, the question begs: Who will the Rays trade to free up a spot on that starting rotation? Will it be Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, or James Shields? Though Tampa Bay signed six players over the course of the last two weeks, they didn’t do as much as expected to shore up DH and first-base, nor did they sign another catcher (outside of Molina) as hoped. With the likes of Willingham and Alonso, as well as other players that the Rays have been rumored to be interested in including Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon, things should get interesting over the course of the next few months. Now that Mark Buehrle is off of the market, and Roy Oswalt is reportedly close to signing a three year deal, you can expect the three above to be pushed to the forefront of desirable starters, potentially (in Shields case) on the market.