Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Manager Joe Maddon and executive vice president Andrew Friedman remain optimistic about the Tampa Bay Rays' on-field future

ST. PETERSBURG — The doom-and-gloom future forecast by principal owner Stuart Sternberg after Tuesday's departure from the playoffs won't affect the Rays' plans to improve their team for next season.

Or their optimism about it.

Executive vice president Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon made it clear Thursday they expect to continue their run of success after reaching the playoffs three of the past four years.

"I think the one thing we've learned about Stu is that things change," Friedman said. "He likes to say markets change. Things change. Before we got (reliever) Rafael Soriano (in December 2009), he said there's going to be no $7 million closer coming, and five days later there was. I know he's frustrated, but on the baseball operations side of things, we try to insulate ourselves from that. It doesn't do us any good to get caught up in that."

Friedman plans to go into this offseason as the Rays have their previous six under Sternberg, with no set payroll figure and the possibility of increasing — or decreasing — this year's $41 million, based on opportunities.

"I'd expect that it would have some flexibility up and down, depending on how things shake out and what presents itself from a player-procurement standpoint in terms of what we can get, what it means in terms of our other guys and how it fits," Friedman said. "But we're going to be a really talented team next year. We've proven time and time again it's not necessarily about the payroll numbers, it's about the talent we have. It's easy to use it an excuse, but the two of us refuse to do so."

Assuming the Rays retain their core players, they would go into 2012 with more than $22 million committed in salaries (pitcher Wade Davis, third baseman Evan Longoria and infielder Ben Zobrist) and expected-to-be-executed options (pitcher James Shields, reliever Kyle Farnsworth), and likely another $16 million for arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Jeff Niemann and David Price, reliever Joel Peralta and outfielder B.J. Upton.

That's about $38 million without a designated hitter and a first baseman; incumbents Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman are free agents. That's also without an experienced catcher. The Rays hold a $3.2 million option on Kelly Shoppach, though they could seek to bring him back for less if they can't find an upgrade as part of their projected tandem.

The Rays' primary goal for the offseason will be improving the offense. The most logical avenue is trading from their stockpile of starting pitchers, which is eight deep with the emergence of Alex Cobb, Matt Moore and Alex Torres.

But Friedman said he's reluctant to dilute the depth (he said the same thing before trading Matt Garza last year) or diminish the defense (a major-league co-leading .988 fielding percentage).

"I would love to maintain the caliber of defense we have and add offense, of course," Friedman said.

Another priority will be the bullpen. As opposed to last offseason, when it had to be rebuilt, Friedman said that with Farnsworth and Peralta returning and the development of their young arms, the Rays would be looking for just one or two additions.

"I'm definitely going to get a lot more sleep this offseason," Friedman said.

Manager Joe Maddon and executive vice president Andrew Friedman remain optimistic about the Tampa Bay Rays' on-field future 10/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2011 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. NFL Week 3: What we learned

    Bucs

    Take the knee … well, not NOW

     1. Photo of Roger Mooney for Times Sports.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer's primary problem Sunday, as in much of September, was a lack of slider command. When he can't throw it where he wants, and doesn't have the confidence in the changeup to throw it often, he can't win with just his fastball.

  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. Bradenton high school senior Chasten Whitfield inspires young anglers

    Outdoors

    MADEIRA BEACH — The kids lined up single file, snow cones in hand, a procession of sweaty, excited grade schoolers watching Chasten Whitfield throw a cast net.

    Whitfield, a senior at Bradenton Manatee, demonstrates how to throw a cast net at the FishKids tournament in Madeira Beach. She also taught knot tying.
  5. Wreck helps Kyle Busch take control of Monster Cup's ISM 300

    Auto racing

    LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch saw little but billowing white smoke that engulfed the track and blinded enough drivers that it caused a tremendous wreck that notably altered the race running order.

    Kyle Busch celebrates with a burnout after his third victory of the season that earns a berth in the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs. He also has some fun with Loudon the Lobster.