The Rays first major decision of the off-season has to come by Saturday night.
While some team options decisions don't have to be made until Monday night - five days after the end of the World Series - Ben Zobrist's option comes with a Saturday deadline.
It shouldn't be much of a decision for the Rays anyway, as Zobrist - even with a slight raise to $7,5-million - is one of the game's better bargains based on his versatility and performance, which included the 2014 Don Zimmer MVP Award from the local baseball writers.
Even if Zobrist didn't fit in the Rays plans, they would be much better off picking up his option and then looking to trade him than to let him become a free agent and leave with nothing in return. (The buyout is only $500,000.)
The Rays do have until Monday night to decide on their $2.5-million option on RHP Joel Peralta, who has no buyout. Agent Mark Gilling said he had not yet heard from the Rays but was confident Peralta, 39 in March, could still pitch effectively, better than his 3-4, 4.41 record this past season showed.Full Story
The always interesting Baseball America list of the Rays top prospects came in the mail today, and as usual is has some new faces, with SS Willy Adames, the athletic infielder acquired from the Tigers in the David Price trade, atop the list. Overall, five of the 10 joined the Rays organization in 2014.
Here is the Baseball America Top 10:
1. Willy Adames, ssFull Story
2. Alex Colome, rhp
3. Justin O'Conner, c
4. Adrian Rondon, ss
5. Nathan Karns, rhp
6. Mikie Mahtook, of
7. Ryan Brett, 2b
8. Brent Honeywell, rhp
9. Blake Snell, lhp
10. Casey Gillaspie, 1b
Here, courtesy of the players union, is the list of 121 players who became free agents this morning. Another 32, including Rays INF/OF Ben Zobrist and RHP Joel Peralta, have options pending, with decisions due by Monday.
This is the union list of 121 XX B free-agent players, sorted by 2014 team, eligible to negotiate and sign with any club beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Another 32 players may be eligible for free agency pending the option provisions in their Uniform Players Contract (UPC).
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Houston AstrosFull Story
Jose Veras …
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman was the first to report Wednesday that a deal was in place between Joe Maddon and the Cubs.
Rumors that surfaced immediately after Joe Maddon left the Rays that he was headed to the Cubs apparently have become reality, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman was the first to report Wednesday that a deal was in place.
When Maddon opted out of his deal with the Rays, he said he did not have a job lined up and didn't know if he would get one. But agent Alan Nero immediately talked to a number of teams, including the Cubs, who had a manager, Rick Renteria, under contract through 2016.
However agent Alan Nero told the Times that there was "not a done deal" and he was still having discussions with several teams. Nero said Maddon had an offer for a TV job, for at least one managing job and several front-office roles.
"Joe is still deciding,'' Nero said. "We might have a deal in the next few days.''
There was no confirmation yet from either side, and Nero did not return multiple messages from the Times.
CSN Chicago reported that the CBS report was inaccurate, but that all signs pointed to a deal getting done eventually.
Maddon, who was to make just under $2-million in the last year of his deal with the Rays, is in line for a mega-deal, potentially for $5-million a year for 4-5 years. …Full Story
As other teams do this time of year as well, the Rays released a number of minor-league players with an eye toward shaping their rosters and organization depth chart. Among those let go, per Baseball America:
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2008)
The Rays say they have not had talks with representatives of Montreal or any other city - including Tampa - about relocation and remain committed to making it work in the Tampa Bay area.
In response to questions stemming from weekend media reports, the Rays issued a statment this afternoon saying they have not had talks with representatives of Montreal or any other city - including Tampa - about relocation and remain committed to making it work in the Tampa Bay area.
The full statement:
"We are committed to making baseball work in the Tampa Bay region. We will do everything we can to make that happen and right now things are moving in a productive and positive direction. We have not spoken to Montreal - or any other city, including Tampa - about relocation at any point.''
The latest rumors surfaced after a mention in a Saturday New York Daily News column by Bill Madden that "According to sources, (principal owner Stuart) Sternberg has had discussions with wealthy Wall Street associates about moving the Rays to Montreal.''
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig told the Los Angeles Times at the World Series on Saturday that principal owner Stuart Sternberg has not told him of any interest in moving to the team.Full Story
Maddon's departure was front-page news in the Chicago Sun-Times.
As Joe Maddon headed west in his RV Saturday, agent Alan Nero said there has been a lot of talk about opportunities for the now former Rays manager but no offers.
Nero said he received "a lot of, lot of phone calls" inquiring about Maddon's interest in broadcast and front office advisor-type roles, and some requests from teams he wouldn't disclose to not make any decisions until hearing back from them, indicating potential interest in hiring Maddon to replace a manager they would have to fire or reassign.
"Nothing concrete, nothing to report,'' Nero said. "We're going to take it slow. I think things will start to develop next week.''
Nero said Maddon was prepared to sit out the 2015 season - or to do TV work - if the right managing opportunity didn't present itself, but he is also confident Maddon will get an opportunity.
There has been extensive speculation about the Cubs, who have Rick Renteria under contract through 2017, so much so that Maddon's departure was front page news in the Chicago Sun-Times. But there are other teams that could also have interest in Maddon, including the Angels, who have longtime manager Mike Scioscia under contract. …Full Story
Some more reaction from some veteran Rays on the departure of manager Joe Maddon:
Evan Longoria:Full Story
"Although I have not heard from Joe I'm sure that he has sound reasoning for his decision. He was able to accomplish something in a his time with us that not many can say they've had success doing, complete cultural change and the belief in something new and innovative. I'm appreciative for the knowledge that he shared with me and the amount of growth I experienced playing for him. I know that Matt and his team will choose the right fit for us moving forward and I look forward to working with whoever that person may be." …
If you were surprised by Friday’s news that Rays manager Joe Maddon is leaving the club, you’re in good company.
“It was one of those things that came out of nowhere,” right-hander Jake Odorizzi said Friday afternoon, a few hours after learning about the news on TV.
While Odorizzi was shocked, teammate Chris Archer had a feeling that Maddon could be leaving. Archer said he came to that realization soon after executive vice president Andrew Friedman departed for the Dodgers earlier this month.
“Just knowing that Andrew left, I had a feeling that either this year or the end of next year, Joe wouldn’t be back,” Archer said.
Archer isn’t upset. He said he’s happy for Maddon and for anyone else who leaves for a better opportunity for himself or his family.
But he said it will be a little weird when he shows up for spring training and won’t see Friedman or Maddon.
“Joe and Andrew have been here for a long time,” Archer said. “They’re the only thing that I know. It’s not necessarily the end of the world for anybody that they left. … …Full Story
UPDATE, 3:25: Silverman said there is no list of names yet and no timetable to name a replacement, but among the candidates likely to surface are Martinez, Kapler, Tim Bogar (who was a Rays coach and a finalist for the Rangers job), Joe McEwing and others. They plan to talk with some of their players to get a sense of what charecteristics they should be looking for.
UPDATE, 2:35: The Mets and Dodgers have already said they are not changing managers, increasing speculation that Maddon could end up with the Cubs. Rick Renteria is signed there but they could just reassign him or pay him off.
UPDATE, 2:05: Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said he was "surprised" and "disappointed" that Maddon chose to leave, and that he was "very comfortable" what what he called "very generous" offers. Silverman said he was confident the money component was not the reason Maddon left. …Full Story
When it Andrew Friedman made the difficult and somewhat surprising decision last week to leave the Rays for the Dodgers, it was generally assumed that part of the lure was a lucrative offer.
That, apparently, was putting it mildly.
Friedman's deal with the Dodgers, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, is for $35-million over five years, plus additional money in incentives.
The highest paid GM/team president was considered to be Theo Epstein, who got a reported $3.5-million annually from the Cubs. Brian Cashman just resigned with the Yankees after completely what was reported to be a three-year deal for $3-million a year.
It is not known what Friedman made with the Rays, expect that it was considerably less.
Friedman said at his introductory press conference in Los Angeles that he made the move, after declining previous offers from other other teams, because times change and he was at a different stage in his life.
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was named one of three finalists for the American League Gold Glove award for rightfielders.
Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier was named one of three finalists for the American League Gold Glove award for rightfielders.
"Really a cool moment for me,'' Kiermaier said. "Caught me by complete surprise. It's one thing I didn't expect to get this year, but it's something I was hoping for for years to come because I take such pride in my defense.''
Cole Kalhoun of the Angels and Nick Markakis of the AL East champion Orioles were the other two top vote-getters from AL coaches and managers. The winners will be announced on Nov. 4.
Kiermaier, who didn't join the Rays fulltime until late May after starting the season in Triple-A, made only 57 starts (of his 89 overall) in rightfield, but made a series of highlight-reel catches during an impressive rookie season.
His favorite? A running. leaping, flying catch in right-center with two outs and the bases loaded to rob Peter Bourjos in a June 11 game against the Cardinals at the Trop, a few weeks after he was called up to join the team for good. …Full Story
The Rays haven't released their spring training schedule yet, but for those who can't wait here's what we've pieced together from what other teams have put out:
5: Orioles at Port Charlotte
8: Phillies at Port Charlotte
9: at Yankees, Tampa
13: at Phillies, Clearwater
14: at Orioles, Sarasota
15: Mets, at Port Charlotte
17: at Phillies, Clearwater
26: Yankees, at Port Charlotte
27: at Orioles, Sarasota
30: Orioles, at Port Charlotte
31: at Orioles, Sarasota
April 1: at Yankees, Tampa
2: at Phillies, Clearwater
6: Season opener vs. Orioles, at Tropicana Field
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Chaim Bloom, Rays VP of baseball operations
With Matt Silverman taking over for departed Andrew Friedman as the Rays new President of Baseball Operations, two top assistants, Chaim Bloom and Erik Neander, were promoted from directors to vice presidents of baseball operations to reflect their additional duties and responsibilities.
"Erik and Chaim's promotions are well deserved as they have been essential contributors to our operation for years," Silverman said in a statement. "I look forward to working with them in all facets of baseball operations, and I know they will continue to be great leaders of our deeply talented and dedicated department." …Full Story
Matt Silverman made it pretty clear after taking over as president of baseball operations that Joe Maddon would manage the Rays in 2015, the last year of his current contract.
And Andrew Friedman, in his first comments since leaving the Rays to take over the Dodgers, further quelled any speculation of a trade or brokered deal, saying Friday Don Mattingly would "definitely" manage in LA this season.