2013 Contract Issues: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Carlos Pena - Pena isn't hitting for much power yet, but he's drawing lots of walks and he's a capable defender at first base, according to The Fielding Bible Volume III. The Rays will need a first baseman next offseason, when Pena figures to obtain another one-year deal as a free agent. 
  • B.J. Upton - Upton has positioned himself for a multiyear deal worth $50MM-plus on the open market and the Rays aren't likely to submit the winning bid for their longtime center fielder. The Rays could make Upton a qualifying offer, since he'd probably have surplus trade value on a one-year deal in the $12-13MM range.
  • Kyle Farnsworth - Farnsworth hasn't pitched this year due to elbow soreness. The 36-year-old will likely be looking at a one-year or minor league deal next offseason.
  • Joel Peralta - Peralta has a 23K/6BB ratio in a league-leading 24 appearances this year. He could be a fit in next year's 'pen, but the Rays don't get overly attached to their relievers, so there are no guarantees for Peralta.
  • Jeff Keppinger - Keppinger can hit lefties and play all over the infield, so he's a valuable bench player for manager Joe Maddon.
  • J.P. Howell - Howell's rewarding the Rays for their decision to tender him a contract. But like Farnsworth and Peralta, he doesn't have any guarantees going forward.

Contract Options (4)

  • James Shields: $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout. The Rays will exercise Shields' option after the season.
  • Luke Scott: $6MM club option with a $1MM buyout. Scott has eight home runs and a .789 OPS now, and if he continues hitting this option could seem team-friendly by the end of the season.
  • Fernando Rodney: $2.5MM club option with a $250K buyout. When the Rays signed Rodney, many people, myself included, criticized the team for guaranteeing the walk-prone right-hander a roster spot and $2MM. Rodney has been sensational so far this season with a career-best walk rate and his best strikeout rate since 2008. If the season ended today the Rays would exercise this option.
  • Jose Molina: $1.8MM club option with a $300K buyout. The Rays' decision will likely depend on their assessment of Molina's defense and the development of Robinson Chirinos and Jose Lobaton (both presently on the disabled list).

Arbitration Eligible (8)

Price could end up close to $7MM his second time through arbitration and Niemann could approach $5MM. Joyce figures to be in the $3MM range next year and should lead the Rays' first-time eligible players. Gimenez and Brignac both have an OPS below .500, so they'll want to start hitting to ensure they aren't non-tendered.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Rays have committed $18.6MM to next year's team, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Their payroll sits at $63.6MM this year, but that's not necessarily predictive, since the team's payroll has fluctuated a fair amount under the ownership of Stuart Sternberg.

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