2011 Contract Issues: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays face two contractual options after the season:

  • Reliever Dan Wheeler has a $4MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  Wheeler is homer-prone, but he's somehow kept hits off the board in his best years.  He's also struggled against lefties at times.  The Rays may have better ways of spending the $3MM net price.
  • Infielder Willy Aybar has a $2.2MM club option with a $275K buyout.  For the Rays this is a matter of determining what Aybar would otherwise earn as a member of the third-time arbitration class.

The Rays have a huge slate of important free agents, headlined by Carlos Pena, Carl CrawfordPat Burrell, and Rafael SorianoGrant Balfour, Gabe Kapler, and Randy Choate will also be eligible.  The group earns about $40.4MM this year, more than half the Rays' payroll.  If Wheeler departs, $43.4MM will come off the books.

Increases to players under contract check in around $7.9MM, led by Ben Zobrist.  The total increase would reach $8.7MM if Aybar's option is exercised.  The Rays arbitration-eligibles include Andy Sonnanstine as a first-timer and Matt Garza, B.J. Upton, and J.P. Howell as big-name second-timers.  Jason Bartlett and Dioner Navarro would go for a third time, Lance Cormier a fourth.  The Rays may be inclined to lock up Garza.   They could potentially tack on $10MM retaining their key arbitration-eligibles.

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in February payroll will drop back under $60MM next year, from this year's $72.8MM range.  Holding payroll steady would've given the Rays over $20MM to fill vacancies from Crawford, Pena, or Soriano, or retain one or two of them.  Most of that free cash could disappear with a payroll cut, leading the Rays to turn to their deep farm system for the next wave of cheap talent.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

38 Responses to 2011 Contract Issues: Tampa Bay Rays Leave a Reply

  1. 04Forever 5 years ago

    I doubt many Rays fans will consider Burrell “important”

  2. 04Forever 5 years ago

    As for the actually important impending free agents, should be interesting to see if their game plan is to net both or even on of the two. Id say try to keep Crawford at all costs, hard hitting first basemen come and go but guys like Crawford are fewer in between

    • Vmmercan 5 years ago

      Oh sure, claim the guy the Sox could need isn’t important to the Rays, but the guy the Yankees want should be held onto.





      • 04Forever 5 years ago

        lol i wasnt sure where that was going at first. im only talking about whats best for the Rays, if they had to keep one they should keep the better one. Im one of those Sox fans that doesnt want Pena anyway

      • Boz 5 years ago

        While the sox need Pena, the Yanks dont need Crawford. you could actually say the Sox need Crawford too…but then again the Sox need a whole new team

        • 04Forever 5 years ago

          its still early, i wouldnt give up on them just yet.

          • Boz 5 years ago

            while i am not one to usually drop my expectations of a team so early. they havent really showed any positive signs. and in this division (especially with how ridiculous TB has been playing) you cant dig yourself too deep too early. they could be in serious trouble at the end of May.

            their SP has been the biggest culprit so they need to step up. as for the offense I dont see Ortiz making the crazy turn around like he did at the end of last year again.

          • 04Forever 5 years ago

            i agree on almost all counts, starting pitching and ortiz hurt the most. pitching will make a turn for the better but i agree with ortiz not turning it around. ive said it a bunch of times already to my friends and on this site, give it till the end of this month, if we are still in the basement going into June, expect the Sox to become sellers at the deadline and for Papelbon to go bye-bye. On the other hand, if pitching and timely hitting put us back in, expect the sox to go get a hitter and release Ortiz. It can go either way right now, like I said, give it till the end of the month

          • WOW today is the last day of the season and this post was so WRONG…. if im you bro i dont post again in this page

          • Boz 5 years ago

            hey dumbass, my post was all about how poor they were playing in the beginning of the year. nothing about what I said was wrong. they actually did what I said and stepped up. Nice try tho.

  3. The Rays are not gonna shop either and most likely they are gonna let both go. If they keep one it’ll be Pena. Crawford is getting there in age and his speed wont be there forever plus they have Jennings waiting. Plus the Rays have an embarrassment of riches in their farm system. Barring injury it’s hard to see Hellickson or Beckham coming up soon. Both could provide plenty of trade bait.

  4. The Rays should try to deal Wheeler if he stays hot this season for a younger, cheaper bullpen arm. I’m sure someone like Jim Hendry would make a deal like that, like it or not. Cheap replacement for Wheeler for next year and beyond for the Rays and a contender mortgages a little bit of their future and adds payroll to shore up their bullpen.

  5. went9 5 years ago

    If the Rays continue to play well, their attendance numbers should rise to a level which will allow the FO to spend a bit more. Let’s see if they can bring in over 2 million fans this year. If the fans don’t show up and support the team, Crawford and Carlos are gone.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      well, as of now, their averaging about 17.5k fans a game. 81 home games, thats about 1.4million fans for the year…..

      really a shame they don’t get more fans for how hard this team has worked to come out of the floor.

      • went9 5 years ago

        17.5k fans average so far for 15 home games but the only quality team they have played at home is the Yankees. And also, school isn’t out yet for the kids to go to midweek games. The attendance numbers always jump in June, July, and August. If they keep winning, it could snowball this year into 2mil plus fans at home and that will give the FO more spending power in the off season. They are growing a fanbase in St Pete/Tampa from their good run in 2008. Inside and out they continue to improve the fan experience at the Trop. Better score boards, added new paint inside giving it a warmer feeling to the fans, ect.
        The old owners use to charge employees to park in there huge lots. The new owners are much better businessmen. If you have four fans in your car now, you park for free. The product across the board is much improved in Tampa/St Pete and they may break 2 million this year.

      • Yankees420 5 years ago

        I always used to go to Rays games when I lived in the Tampa Bay area, mostly because the tickets were cheap and the Yankees came into town a lot, but I’d go see them about 25 times per season. I even got Vinny Testaverde’s autograph at a game once, but that was back when Canseco was on the team.

        • LOL, oh great, another jerk who lives in the area but can’t support the local team. Why don’t you stay your ass home next time and keep your money. Your Yankee representation is very much unwanted.

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            What are you talking about? I did support the local team when I lived there, I moved to southern California years ago.

          • Yeah and I bet you showed up to “support the local team” in a Jeter jersey. Gimme a break.

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            The amount of offense you take to me being a Yankee fan and living in different areas of the country is comical. And no I didn’t wear a Jeter jersey, I didn’t wear any jersey because I was pretty broke and I spent my money on tickets to Rays, and Lightning games instead. Anyways it’s obvious that you prematurely decided to judge the kind of baseball fan that I am based on my favorite team, to each is own I suppose.

          • Yes I did, and yes you are scum for going to Rays games while living in the area and still cheering for the Yankees. I’m pretty sure you’re already aware that basically everyone on earth hates your team and wants them to lose. Enjoy!

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            Someone’s a little feisty now aren’t they?

          • I’m sure your cheering for the Yankees has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they’ve won so much. I’m sure you would never change teams if the Yankees were doing poorly. Christ you people are transparent

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            I can promise you that if the Yankees absolutely tank and post the worst record in the majors I will still root for them. I’m not a bandwagon fan and have been a fan of the Yankees since age 4, so it has more to do with tradition than how much they’ve won (although I do like the fact that my favorite team wins a lot). Anyway you obviously have a preconceived notion about all Yankee fans so I’m done talking to you, enjoy your night.

  6. jwsox 5 years ago

    I hope the whitesox go after at least one of either crawford or pena…they need both but could use either one. They could either use crawford as 1-2 and resign konerko or sign pena to play first and keep the out field mix they have. The only problem is there are 4 out fielders who will be there next year, possibly even 4 depending on what they do with jordan danks and jones, jones will more than likely get an extension and danks should be major league ready. so that leave juan pierre and carlos quentin in the question

  7. bomberj11 5 years ago

    I hope we aren’t stuck with a bunch of bad contracts. (See: Mets, and Cubs…)

  8. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    if their is a single team in baseball that can absorb losing such a dynamic player like crawford and still compete, its the rays. top prospect desmond jennings should fill in quite nicely. i’d let carlos pena go and see how much boras gets burned by the market only to re-up with him for about 8-9million over 3-4 years.

  9. How much do you guys think Pena will get per year?? Wonder if that howard contract effects him too

    • Yankees420 5 years ago

      I doubt the Howard contract affects Pena too much, he’s about to turn 32 and is a career .247/.355/.500 hitter, with only one truly great season in ’07. He’s a bit of an injury risk and is probably going to decline with age, I can’t see him getting more than 3 years at around 8MM per year.

      Also his career UZR and UZR/150 are both negative, so not stellar defense either.

  10. Trious 5 years ago

    The Rays have built a team with such good minor league talent that they are preparing themselves for defections after this season

    Crawford will be gone as will 1-2 pitchers.

    Still, they have young talent to maybe not replace that but enough to keep them in contention

  11. bballstud16 5 years ago

    Pena is actually a gold glove first baseman. i say rays should try to keep crawford at all costs. an outfield of crawford bj and desmond jennings would be amazing! the ball may never touch the turf! maybe the cuban defector (Nevin Ashley) will prove to be a decent replacement for Pena.

  12. bballstud16 5 years ago

    Pena is actually a gold glove first baseman. i say rays should try to keep crawford at all costs. an outfield of crawford bj and desmond jennings would be amazing! the ball may never touch the turf! maybe the cuban defector (Nevin Ashley) will prove to be a decent replacement for Pena.

  13. j6takish 5 years ago

    If they keep playing the way they are playing, they will not be sellers at the deadline

  14. j6takish 5 years ago

    They are going to let them both go in free agency, unless they are 10 games back at the deadline I don’t see them shopping Crawford and Pena. The Rays have a serious shot at either the wildcard or the division, and they don’t really need any prospects, why become sellers?

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