Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays say they have payroll flexibility
Posted Nov 27, 2007 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Nov 27, 2007 at 06:35 PM
The Rays have yet to make a significant move this off-season, but Andrew Friedman said today that there is some wiggle room in the projected 2008 payroll figure owner Stuart Sternberg floated toward the end of the regular season. That would be in the low $30 millions, as best as we could determine.
“I think there’s a scenario in which that’s what it is; I think there’s a scenario in which it’s higher,” Friedman said. “It’ll get back to the types of players that are available to us and how they fit us. I think it will always be difficult as long as Stuart is the owner to pin down the [payroll] number on Nov. 27 of any year because of how dependent it is on the specific player or players that are available.”
Friedman talked about being opportunistic, which of course has been the mantra for this group from the beginning, and obviously there is a limit somewhere for the payroll—it isn’t going to double. But if they found something that made sense—my guess is it would more likely come in a trade for a player with a decent-sized contract or who is slated to make good money in arbitration the next few years rather than a free-agent signing—I think they’d be inclined to do it.
“If the right player comes along, whether it be in a trade or as a free agent, that puts us over by a million dollars or two million dollars what our upper limit is, we’ll view that kind of independent of anything else,” said Friedman. “But you also have to factor in that as you do that, you’re just depleting what you can do the next year and the next year. All this money is fungible and it all will go into keeping our own players. It just gets to roster flexibility and how important it is for a lower-revenue team.”
Looking ahead to the winter meetings, Friedman reemphasized the importance of improving defensively (most likely starting with whoever they bring in to play shortstop) and reiterated the need to shore up the bullpen. He also indicated perhaps a bit more strongly than he has this fall that the Rays might be looking to add a starting pitcher.
“While our focus is on the bullpen,” said Friedman, “if we’re able to acquire a starter who leapfrogs over some of our guys, obviously it strengthens our rotation, but in turn it also strengthens our bullpen because of the trickle-down effect of a guy or two that we may push down into the bullpen. It’ll be dependent on who that guy is, how he fits, but it’s certainly a possibility.”
Again, my guess would be that move would be made through trade rather than giving a ridiculous contract to Carlos Silva or Kyle Lohse to be, at absolute best, the No. 3 starter. As for the Boof Bonser rumors making the rounds, it’s my understanding that there’s nothing to them.