Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' decisions on which contracts to tender could determine offseason direction

In theory, the Rays are looking for up to five frontline position players.

Two are absolute necessities, as there are no in-house candidates to play first base or DH, leaving the Rays to explore pretty much every trade and free agent option. (And thus creating plenty of rumor-mill fodder.)

Three others would be welcome additions: an outfielder, to replace B.J. Upton in either center or left with Desmond Jennings sliding over; a second baseman or shortstop (or both), depending on what they do with Ben Zobrist; and a catcher, allowing Jose Molina to return to the backup role for which he is better suited.

And though it's still relatively early in the offseason, decisions made by Friday's deadline to tender contracts could dictate some of the Rays' direction.

For example, they could cover second base (and narrow Zobrist's options to short or outfield) by keeping Ryan Roberts. But his projected salary of around $3 million through arbitration seems too expensive, and he could be one of their several potential nontenders. Another option at second is some combo of Sean Rodriguez (who requires some thought at about $1 million as well), Reid Brignac, Elliot Johnson and even Tim Beckham.

For another, they could fill leftfield by platooning arb-eligible Ben Francisco and Sam Fuld, but Francisco could approach $2 million, making him another possible nontender.

And players nontendered elsewhere — Baltimore's Mark Reynolds? — could be fits.

MAKING A PITCH: LHP David Price used his always entertaining @DAVIDprice14 Twitter account to send Thanksgiving wishes to OF Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' last untraded star, with this message: "stay in fla … just come play for the rays please!!! We would love to have you." Stanton responded: "that means I wouldn't have to face u … Tempting Ha!"

FREE-FOR-ALL: The Rays could have interest in INF/OF Chone Figgins, the Brandon High product designated for assignment by Seattle who has a successful history with manager Joe Maddon in Anaheim. … Also potentially, in INF/OF Ryan Raburn, a Durant High product designated by Detroit. … 1B/DH Lance Berkman told the Houston Chronicle the Rays are one of four teams to express "tire-kicking" interest; he may be more interested in the Astros. … RHP Matt Buschmann, a Vanderbilt mate of Price, re-signed after going 7-8, 3.98 at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. … C Nevin Ashley, a Rays farmhand for six years, signed a minor-league deal with the Reds. … Upton is looking to make a decision this week, with both the Braves (who brought in former manager Bobby Cox to impress during his visit) and Phillies considering him their top choice. … The D'backs and Yankees are interested in INF Jeff Keppinger.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Of the two young lefty pitchers added to the 40-man roster, Felipe Rivero is considered more polished while Enny Romero (their No. 6 prospect per Baseball America) has better stuff, including a 92-97 mph fastball. … The Royals' stock of position players and quest for another starter makes them a logical trade partner. … Condolences to farm director Mitch Lukevics on the passing of his wife, Karen, who lost a lengthy battle with cancer. … INF Leonardo Reginatto, the first signee from the team's Brazilian program, was a key player in the World Baseball Classic upset run past Panama; he spent 2012 at short-season Class A Hudson Valley. … Maddon will announce Friday that his Hazleton Integration Project has reached an initial goal, buying a building to serve as a community center in his Pennsylvania hometown. His second annual fund-/awareness-raising event is Dec. 14-16.

Comments
Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Longtime Rays star Evan Longoria was formally introduced in San Francisco today, adding the visual of him pulling on his new Giants jersey, switching to No. 10 since 3 is retired.Longoria said he welcomed the chance to play on a contending team stock...
Published: 01/19/18
What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

ST. PETERSBURG — Since entering an off-season planning major change and pledging to be open to "anything and everything,'' the Rays have made a few minor moves and one massive one in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to San Francisco....
Published: 01/19/18
Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale today at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at the...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte, 33948Get tickets here: (941) 206-4487Pitchers report: Feb. 13. Squad reports: Feb. 19TEAM SCHEDULE(games at 1:05 unless noted)(ss - split squad)Feb 23 at Orioles (ss) (Sarasota)Feb 23 PIRATE...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Former Phillies and Indians manager Charlie Manuel will receive the Ted Williams Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 10 in Clearwater.The honor is bestowed by the Ted Williams Museum at its annual Hitters Hall of Fame induction, moving this year from ...
Published: 01/19/18
Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Armwood High product Matt Joyce, the current A's and former Rays outfielder, hosts his ninth annual Sweet Swingin' charity baseball camp for kids 6-12 on Sunday at the North Brandon youth baseball complex (2929 S Kingsway Rd, Seffner).Registration st...
Published: 01/18/18
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Published: 01/17/18
A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

With the start of spring training now less than a month away, here is what the Rays roster looks like, with the most glaring hole at first base, which at this point seems likely to be manned by Brad Miller, and some questions about the pitching staff...
Published: 01/17/18