Saturday, February 24, 2018
  • The Heater
  • Marc Topkin

Rays have plenty to chat about as GM meetings open near Orlando

Though it's unusual for any deals to get done at the annual GM meetings that open today near Disney World, the hotel lobby and meeting rooms tend to be a good place for things to get started.

And the Rays, looking to improve enough to get back to the playoffs after four straight losing seasons while also cutting payroll, have plenty to talk about.

That includes:

* Trading some of their more expensive veterans to reduce the payroll. While 3B Evan Longoria and CF Kevin Kiermaier seem unlikely to go anywhere, they could talk about a lot of other players. Most likely to be discussed, and probably to be dealt, are RHP Jake Odorizzi, OF/DH Corey Dickerson, RHP Alex Colome and 2B Brad Miller. RHP Chris Archer will at least be asked about as well.

* Filling holes left by their eight free agents. Even if the Rays didn't trade any of the veterans mentioned above, they go into the meetings needing a first baseman, a DH, a couple relievers, a backup outfielder and infielder and a starter. Some of those replacements can from the farm system, but the bulk will be filled be either trades or signings.

* Free agent RHP Alex Cobb's qualifying offer. Cobb has until Thursday to let them know if he'll decline the $17.4-million one-year qualifying offer as the Rays hope (so they can get free agent compensation when he leaves) or accept it and cause them to take even further action in reducing a payroll that was close to $80-million. Cobb is expected to decline, and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported this morning he and the either other major-leaguers who got offers will say no.

* The potential for a new stadium. MLB owners also will meet this week, and by the time they are done on Thursday and commissioner Rob Manfred heads to the media room, it seems likely they will have talked about the potential for a new Rays stadium on the site near Ybor City. Manfred's assessment of the site and the potential may be telling.

* Though not necessarily involving the Rays, the top topic seems likely to be trade talks involving Giancarlo Stanton. The Derek Jeter-led Marlins seem likely to move their slugger, with the Red Sox among those interested.  Also, the progress and process for the expected move to the majors by Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani. And the potential destination for top free agents such as OF J.D. Martinez, RHP Yu Darvish, RHP Jake Arrieta, 1B Eric Hosmer and others. Also expected to be discussed are methods to improve pace of play, such as the possibility of a pitch clock.

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