Arbitration Eligibles: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series.  Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.

His first time through arbitration, Price matched but was unable to top the first-time starting pitcher arbitration record of $4.35MM held by Dontrelle Willis (or $4.365MM by Jered Weaver, if you count award bonuses).  His second time through, Weaver aimed for $8.8MM, but received $7.37MM after losing a hearing.  With a 20-win platform season and a possible Cy Young award, we project Price to fly well beyond $9MM and set a new second-time record.  The Rays control their ace through 2015, but other teams are presumably salivating in hopes of prying him loose before then. 

Niemann broke his right fibula in May, and upon returning in September quickly went down again with a shoulder issue.  The 29-year-old won't get much of a raise and should certainly be tendered a contract.  The Rays have the depth to trade Niemann, but it'd make sense to let him rebuild some value first.

The Rays acquired Roberts in July after the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment.  The versatile 32-year-old had a rough year, and with his salary potentially approaching $3MM the Rays may cut him loose.  Rodriguez is another non-tender candidate, though it's possible the Rays can find a taker via trade before the end of November.  The 27-year-old began the year the favorite at shortstop for the Rays, but was optioned to Triple-A by late August.  The Rays were Francisco's third stop in 2012, and he's another non-tender candidate.

Matt Swartz tells me Fuld is a unique case, in that players with such abbreviated platform seasons and light career work rarely make to arbitration and are tendered contracts.  Fuld's issue this year was wrist surgery.  It appears that Fuld would barely be above the league minimum salary if tendered a contract, so the fact that he's subject to the arbitration process doesn't mean much.

Joyce spent time at both corner outfield positions and continued to struggle against left-handed pitching.  He was fairly productive otherwise and should be retained.  Badenhop will stick around as well, as his low-walk, high-groundball mix was effective in 2012.   

If only Price, Niemann, Joyce, and Badenhop are retained, the Rays are looking at an estimated $16.8MM for four arbitration eligible players.

Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.

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