On the heels of a surprisingly strong season, Rays general manager Erik Neander tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that the team’s “arrow [is] pointing up” as it looks to the future. Neander plainly suggests that the expectation for the club moving forward with this core will be consistent playoff berths, beginning next season. Tampa Bay, stunningly, has just over $9MM on the books in guaranteed contracts next season, though both Matt Duffy and Tommy Pham will be in line for arbitration raises. Both C.J. Cron and Jesus Sucre will also be arbitration-eligible, but Topkin suggests that Cron, Sucre, Carlos Gomez and Sergio Romo may all have played their last game with the organization. Cron is owed a raise on this year’s $2.3MM salary, while Sucre will see a raise on his own $925K salary. Both Gomez and Romo are free agents.
More from the division…
- The Blue Jays will have plenty of roster decisions on their hands this offseason, as Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com explores thoroughly. Chisholm reports that “early indications” are that the Blue Jays are seeking a “fresh face” rather than a veteran manager to replace John Gibbons, mentioning former Jays infielder John McDonald, Double-A skipper John Schneider and Cardinals Triple-A skipper Stubby Clapp as possible candidates. Chisholm also calls it “likely” that the Jays will add a veteran starter to the rotation this winter, looks at the future of both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez with the organization and previews a likely roster crunch in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.
- There’s still no official word on the status of longtime Orioles manager Buck Showlter, but it’s been reported for weeks that he’s unlikely to return. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes that official word on Showalter could come as soon as today, and expectations of his departure have not changed. Kubatko also chatted with Adam Jones following what is quite likely his final game as an Oriole (barring a return late in his career). Jones acknowledged the strangeness he felt in hearing the word “rebuild” in Baltimore, as the only time he’d previously heard it was when he was breaking onto the scene with fellow upstarts Nick Markakis and Chris Tillman. Not that it’s been in doubt, but Jones certainly didn’t speak like someone who anticipated a return to Baltimore. “It’s been a great run here, great tenure here, so hopefully go somewhere and see what the next chapter in my career has for me,” said Jones, who received quite the tribute in his final game at Camden Yards yesterday. Showalter allowed Jones to take the field — center field, at that — alone in the first inning of the game before being removed in the top of the ninth to a roaring ovation from O’s fans (video link via MLB.com).