With the start of the winter meetings Monday morning, the Tampa Bay Rays — bolstered by new manager Kevin Cash — are in San Diego where the arduous task of meeting with representatives from the other 29 teams to start, or continue, discussions on trades is under way.
As a result of all the Rays’ off-season maneuvering after trading four players and making two roster cuts, is a roster that is almost spring training-ready. Silverman was quoted,
“We’re pretty close to having a functional roster. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to explore substantial changes to it, but we’re comfortable heading into spring training with the bulk of the players already on our roster and already in the organization.”
Yet there are a few pressing matters involving Matt Silverman and the newly hired Cash (among others) are hiring a bench coach, finding a backup catcher to replace Jośe Molina and moving one of the surplus outfielders. The team will also begin to focus on rounding out the coaching staff, with the potential for moving one of the existing coaches to bench coach — perhaps Tom Foley, Charlie Montoyo, Rocco Baldelli, or minor league hitting coordinator Chad Mottola (a longtime Cash buddy) — or going outside the organization to fill the newly created spot left in the wake of Dave Martinez.
While the Rays might want to add someone with managing experience to the staff, previous managerial experience is not a prerequisite. Per Silverman, they are more focused on someone who fits in and complements the current staff.
Cash has spoken with most of the current coaches and is excited by what he’s heard so far. It should be noted, he’s worked as a player with Foley and assistant hitting coach Jamie Nelson.
Of the potential moves, dealing outfielder Matt Joyce, and signing a free-agent starter to fill in for Matt Moore during the first half of the season are at play. Joyce has received more attention than David DeJesus and the Rays are talking with several teams about their outfield surplus. Wil Myers also appears to be at least a subject of discussion.
“With some of the free agents coming off the board teams are more focused on the trade market to fill vacancies,” said Silverman. “…We’ve had more knocks on our door than we’ve had in the prior weeks.”
As it relates to Joyce, who is projected to make $4.9M through arbitration, Silverman noted,
“That has been a place where we have had discussions with teams, but we’ve also had discussions with teams about every other aspect of our roster, and I expect those conversations will gain more momentum this week.”
Speaking to the latter, there is a feeling that there may be enough pitching depth at Triple-A Durham to fill in for Moore while he mends from Tommy John surgery.
“There’s a possibility of a signing like that [Erik Bedard], whether it’s at the major-league level or a six-year free-agent guy in Triple-A,” Silverman said. “But even without that type of a signing, we’re comfortable about our rotation heading into spring. We saw flashes (last season) of what Colome and Karns can do, and there are other options in the mix. Those are the types of players competing for that fifth spot when Matt continues to rehab.”
The Rays have also “been active” on both trade and free agent options in the search for a backup catcher, and Silverman is open-minded to both veteran and younger options.
Regardless of what happens over the the following week, Silverman and company have finally been afforded the opportunity to take a step back and breathe, after what has amounted to a hectic — yet productive — start to the off-season. With the biggest moves behind them, the time has come to mold the almost Spring Training ready roster, some 74 days before pitchers and catchers report to camp.
- While Stu Sternberg made it abundantly clear — the Rays are due a significant payroll reduction in 2015, Tampa Bay’s payroll could exceed $70 million.
- Yunel Escobar? For sale? Our friends at DRaysBay seem to think he could be the first dealt at the winter meetings.
- Marc Topkin writes, “Details of Cash’s multiyear deal have not been released, but the Tampa Bay Times has learned that he will not be the lowest paid manager in 2015, as has been speculated. Details of manager salaries are hard to come by, but that would mean an annual salary in excess of $600,000. There is also believed to be at least one option year in his deal. Maddon’s first contract was for two years with a two-year option.”