UPDATE, 9:06: LHP Xavier Cedeno, coming off an injury-married 2017, was non-tendered, the remaining nine arbitration eligible players – including Brad Miller – got contracts.
DEVELOPING: The Rays reduced their list of arbitration eligible players to 10 in advance of tonight's 8 p.m. non-tender deadine when RHP Chase Whitley was claimed on waivers by the Braves.
After trading RHP Brad Boxberger to Arizona on Thursday and losing Whitley to potentially save around $3-million, the Rays may be facing a few more decisions in advance of the deadline, potentially on INF Brad Miller (projected to make $4.4-million) and lefty relievers Dan Jennings ($2.5M) and Xavier Cedeno ($1.4M).
Expected to be tendered contracts, with their projected salaries via mlbtraderumors.com, are:
RHP Jake Odorizzi ($6.5M), OF/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4M), RHP Alex Colome ($5.5M), SS Adeiny Hechavarria ($5M), OF Steven Souza Jr. ($3.6M), C Jesus Sucre ($1.3M), INF Matt Duffy ($900K).
Whitley, who the Rays signed and rehabbed from May 2015 Tommy John surgery, made 41 appearances over three stints last season, posting a 2-1, 4.08 record with two saves. He seemed to fit as part of the 2018 bullpen given his ability to work as a starter or reliever, and there wasn't much savings as he was only projected to make $1-million, and whoever is on the roster in that role will make at least the MLB minimum $545,000.
It's curious why the Rays waited to put him on waivers now, perhaps gambling they could get him through and keep him in their system. Had they done so last week, they could have used the spot on the 40-man roster to protect another prospect from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
Here is some updated background from Thursday's post on the remaining arb-eligibles:
Of that group Hechavarria is probably the only one with cause for pause, but his defensive play and offensive improvements make him too valuable, to the Rays or someone else, to let walk.
With Miller projected to make $4.4-million, the Rays have to decide whether they think it's a good bet he'll rediscover his 2016 30-homer form or struggle again like he did in 2017, and whether the core muscle repair surgery he had in October provides reason to think his dropoff was injury related.
Also, whether they want to take that gamble or if they are confident they can convince some other team to and get something back for him rather than just let him become a free agent as a non-tender and get nothing.
At this point, keeping him is probably more likely.
Though none of the relievers project to make that much money, the Rays are looking to trim salary so trading or dropping one or a couple would net some small savings.
Between now and Friday night, the Rays could look to trade any of those players (possibly for international bonus pool money to bolster their bid for Japanese free-agent Shohei Ohtani) or cut deals to a set salary, saving the team from possibly paying more in the arbitration process and the player from being dropped from the roster and tossed into free agency.
Of the bigger names, Odorizzi, Colome and Dickerson are already the subject of trade speculation. The Cardinals are among the interested teams in both pitchers.