A look at the Rays players who will be arbitration-eligible after the season…
- First time: Dan Johnson, Andy Sonnanstine
- Second time: Matt Garza, B.J. Upton, J.P. Howell
- Third time: Jason Bartlett, Dioner Navarro, Lance Cormier, Willy Aybar (if option is declined)
Johnson could be non-tendered, if the Rays prefer to try to bring him back on a minor league deal. He signed a Major League deal in January, but passed through waivers unclaimed after being designated for assignment in March. The Rays may be forced to endure a bullpen makeover for 2011, but non-tendering Cormier still makes sense. Howell is also a candidate to be cut, if the Rays evaluate him in December and don't feel he'll be ready for Spring Training. On the other hand, they could retain Howell with little or no raise.
Navarro, currently toiling at Triple A, figures to be non-tendered. There's a good chance Aybar is let go as well, as the Rays may not find him worth his $2.2MM club option or the amount he'd get through arbitration.
Those cuts could leave Sonnanstine, Garza, Upton, and Bartlett as the players tendered contracts. The Rays may have the pitching depth to trade Sonnanstine and/or Garza, but the asking price for the latter should be considerable. Garza will still be affordable, perhaps at a salary around $6MM.
With Reid Brignac as an option, the Rays could be one of few teams shopping a shortstop in Bartlett. If tendered a contract, Bartlett will make more than $4MM next year despite an unimpressive 2010 season. It's possible the Rays try to extract some value in a deal before the December 12th non-tender deadline. Upton, while not the star hitter we once expected, is worth keeping around. With Carl Crawford expected to leave, the Rays probably can't spare Upton.