While their offer wasn’t enough to get a deal done, the Rays evidently made a real effort to secure the services of veteran reliever Craig Kimbrel. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the typically tight-fisted Tampa Bay organization was the runner-up in the bidding. (Subscription link.)
Kimbrel’s deal with the Cubs, which still isn’t official, goes for a reported three years and $43MM. He could instead have taken down $39MM from the Rays on a similar structure or instead gone for a two-year, $31MM offer from the Tampa Bay outfit.
Even though the ship has sailed on Kimbrel, this is certainly an interesting bit of information. The Rays obviously feel they can take on a rather significant additional salary this year and in the near future. Perhaps the star closer was something of a unique case, but it stands to reason that the club will also consider other opportunities at or approaching this price point.
Whether or not it takes money to make a move, it also seems the Rays can be counted on as a buyer of relief pitching at the deadline. That’s hardly a surprise, generally; the Rays are right in the thick of things in the AL East. Their relief unit has been good but could certainly stand to be improved. Plus, only one member of the current staff has more than three years of MLB service. In light of the aggressive stance on Kimbrel, the Rays now seem a favorite to put their well-stocked farm system to use in trade talks this summer.