Conflicting reports have emerged about a potential sale within the Rays’ ownership group, as Montreal businessman Stephen Bronfman told Rejean Tremblay of Le Journal De Montreal (hat tip to Sportsnet.ca’s Ryan McKenna for the translation) that a Bronfman-led group of investors would buy a minority share of the Rays within a few months’ time. This statement was denied by no less than Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg himself, who told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that “there’s nothing happening in months. No way.”
As Sternberg, Bronfman, and Major League Baseball continue to explore the possibility of the Rays splitting their home schedule between St. Petersburg and Montreal come the 2028 season, Sternberg said that Bronfman’s group “eventually, at a point, I would expect and believe they could and would become minority partners….I need some representation up there.” A partial sale wouldn’t happen, however, until construction is actually in progress on a new stadium in Montreal, Sternberg stressed. That ballpark is still very much in the conceptual stages, as land has yet to be secured and the city of Montreal has yet to approve any building. Still, Bronfman and the Rays are hopeful of having their two-city idea green-lit by MLB by the end of the year.
Some more from Tampa…
- Speaking of ownership, Topkin writes in a separate piece that neither Sternberg or Rays minority owner Randy Frankel were planning a bid to potentially buy the Mets. After plans to sell the club to Steve Cohen fell through, the Wilpon and Katz families still intend to sell the Mets. Frankel “was involved with a group that expressed interest in 2011” in purchasing the Mets, Topkin writes, while Sternberg is a Brooklyn native who was a Mets fan growing up. Of course, a Sternberg bid for the Mets would also require him to sell the Rays to another buyer.
- Assuming no major injuries, the Rays may only have three undecided roster spots to figure out by Opening Day, Topkin writes. Michael Perez, Kevan Smith, and Chris Herrmann will be battling for the backup catcher position, one bullpen spot will be filled from a plethora of in-house arms, and it remains to be seen whether the Rays will use their 26th roster slot on another reliever or another infielder. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo’s ability to handle third base could be a deciding factor, as if the newly-signed slugger is capable, the Rays could have enough extra infield depth between Tsutsugo and Joey Wendle to take on the extra reliever. Whatever the team chooses to do with their 26-man Opening Day roster, of course, can be adjusted during the season — Topkin floats a scenario that would see the Rays start the season with the extra infielder, but then call up an pitcher for extra relief depth during a busy stretch of 30 games in 31 days between April 3 and May 3.