Decision day: Rays mull options on Shields, Shoppach and Farnsworth
There should be some news today that could play a big role in the Rays 2012 season, with Tampa Bay having until midnight tonight to officially pick up contract options on RHP James Shields ($7.5 million), closer Kyle Farnsworth ($3.3 million) and catcher Kelly Shoppach ($3.2 million).
While executive VP Andrew Friedman has not commented on the situation yet, the Rays will likely exercise their options on Shields and Farnsworth. There's a good chance they choose to buy out Shoppach for $300,000, but leave the door open for potentially signing him this offseason at a different price.
Shields had a spectacular bounce-back season, boasting a major-league best 11 complete games and his first All-Star selection. His option could escalate to $8 million depending on his finish in the AL Cy Young voting. Farnsworth also had a career year, with 25 saves in his first full season in the closer's role.
Shoppach struggled offensively, but his work behind the plate defensively could make him an option to bring back, especially if the Rays aren't sold yet on rookies C Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos. Shoppach's agent, Ryan Ware, has said Shoppach enjoyed his time with Tampa Bay and wouldn't close any doors on coming back.
The Rays coaches' contracts are also up today, but they're expecting the staff to remain the same next season; the lone exception could be a change at bullpen coach (Bobby Ramos missed a lot of the season last year due to illness, assistant to the pitching coach Stan Boroski could step into that role).
Stay tuned for updates as the Rays make their decisions.
-- JOE SMITH