The Rays are a team built around versatility, and one of their most flexible pieces in recent years has been infielder Willy Aybar. The 27-year-old has spent the majority of his big league time at third base, but can also handle spot duty at first and second.
Aybar isn't a traditional non-tender candidate in that the decision is simply whether or not to offer him a contract for next season. The Rays signed him to a two-year deal worth $2.6MM guaranteed before 2009, and that deal includes $2.2MM club option for 2011 that can instead be bought out for $275K. Aybar still has two more years of arbitration eligibility left ahead of him, so Tampa could decline the option and then non-tender him for a total savings of $1.925M.
A bargain in 2008 and 2009, Aybar hit .253/.329/.413 with double digit homers in each of those two seasons while playing no fewer than three positions. This year's been a different story, however, as he's fallen off to .235/.309/.348 with just five homers while spending the most of his time as a designated hitter against lefthanded pitching despite hitting just .252/.299/.390 off southpaws. Aybar's strikeout rate has risen for the third straight year as well.
Tampa is facing a payroll reduction next season, so parting ways with the increasingly unproductive Aybar could be one way to cut costs. That said, it's time to vote. Click here to tell us if you think the Rays will non-tender Aybar after the season, and here to see the results.