The Tampa Bay Rays normally carry a small payroll every year, ranging anywhere from $60-70MM per year, with the team’s highest payroll coming in the end of the 2016 season at just over $81MM. Tampa’s owner Stuart Sternberg has called for a drop in payroll this offseason, which means another offseason of tough decisions are ahead for the Rays’ front office. With a strong farm system, the Rays don’t exactly need to have a fire sale and trade everyone, but they will have to market several veterans nonetheless. Let’s take a look at the players who may come up in discussions at the winter meetings.
-Jake Odorizzi/$7MM(arb projection)
Odorizzi enters his last season of club control next season before he hits free agency, and trading him and his projected salary is a no-brainer for a team that is cutting payroll. The Rays may not get as much in return as they would have in the past couple of years, but nonetheless Odorizzi and his 3.83 career ERA could fill a No. 3 or 4 spot in another team’s rotation.
-Corey Dickerson/$6.5MM(arb projection)
Dickerson was a 2.7 WAR player who hit a career high 27 homers and made the all-star team in the 2017 season but he struggled in the year prior and actually had his hot and cold streaks during this past season. Teams may not value him very highly despite the ability to hit 20+ homers per year. He’s not valued highly defensively, which is why the Rays use him as a DH often in the lineup. He can provide enough offense however that teams may have some interest.
-Alex Colome/$6MM(arb projection)
One of the top closers on the trade market, Colome is expected to receive plenty of interest, we’ve already heard the Cardinals are interested, and he should have a wide market for teams looking for back-end help that don’t want to pay the current free agent closers. The Rays will have a big asking price on Colome due to his club control, but with a reliable closer who saved 47 games in 2017, he should receive a big return.
He’s spent his entire 10-year career in a Rays uniform and has been a franchise cornerstone, but the Rays have been rumored to at least consider listening to teams if they call about Longoria in the past couple of years. The Rays have given no indication that they are shopping their longtime star 3rd baseman, but with his $13.6MM salary and the fact that his salary will rise in the years ahead, Tampa President of Baseball Operations Matthew Silverman may have to make a very tough call in considering trading the teams’ longtime franchise player. Despite his somewhat down 2017, Longoria has proved he is a strong offensive weapon and can help any major league lineup. The fact that he is 31 and is signed through his age 37 season could give teams some pause however.
Ramos was added last winter with the hopes of him returning from his ACL injury to be the player he was prior to his injury, when he had a huge year with the Nationals in 2016 where he hit .307/.354/.496 in 523 PAs. He returned midseason to hit .260/.290/.447 with 11 homers, so perhaps the Rays may have to keep Ramos around and hope he can have a better year in 2018, where he’ll have a full year to prove his health and hopefully fully return to form to get some value at next year’s trade deadline.
The clear top player in terms of trade value on the Rays, Archer is both very affordable and a top of the rotation starter. And as such, the Rays should have a massive asking price on the 28-year old right-hander. He is mentioned due to the fact that teams are always calling about Archer, but once again, unless if they are to receive a massive offer, don’t expect Archer to be traded.
Kiermaier was only recently extended last year, so he would be one of the last players the team would trade, but like Archer, unless the Rays receive a big offer, don’t expect a Kiermaier trade to happen.
Adeiny Hechavarria/$5MM(arb projection)
With the deadline to tender contracts to arb-eligible players, there’s the chance that Hechavarria may even be non-tendered. If he isn’t, the Rays are sure to aggressively shop the gifted defender at shortstop. His light bat works against the Rays and his projected $5MM salary in trade talks, and while he won’t receive much of a return in the event of a trade, the Rays getting out from his salary would be enough to make the team happy.
Brad Miller/$5MM(arb projection)
Perhaps the toughest player in terms of tendering a contract by tonight’s deadline, Miller looks like he’ll be tendered a contract despite those that say he may not. Miller had a really rough year in 2017, however his breakout 2016 in which he smacked 30 homers could help the Rays in at least keeping him around with the hopes of finding a taker in trade talks.
Special thanks to Cot’s Contracts for providing salaries.