The Rays cut their Opening Day payroll by $30MM this year and while the on-field product remains strong – the team is 44-35 in the competitive American League East – it is not generating as much ticket revenue as expected. Owner Stuart Sternberg told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that attendance has been "well-below expectations" to this point in the season. Despite that, the Rays will be open to adding payroll in trades this summer, because “winning is paramount.”
The Rays are last in the American League in attendance this year with an average home crowd of 18,522. That’s a drop of roughly 4,200 fans per game from 2010, when an average of 22,758 showed up at Tropicana Field to cheer their team on in its successful bid for a division title.
Tampa Bay's offense ranks 13th in MLB with 334 runs scored. Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac haven't provided much thump at shortstop, so that's a possible area of need, as is first base. Though the Rays' remade bullpen has a solid 3.62 ERA, a 4.34 xFIP suggests there's room for improvement.