Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays not planning offseason shopping spree

ORLANDO — Discussions about potentially trading ace David Price, and any hints about which way they're leaning, are strictly a private matter among Rays officials.

But they have other issues to deal with on a team they expect to again contend in 2014, and in detailing their offseason priorities, executive vice president Andrew Friedman on Tuesday provided some insight into their strategy.

• Rather than commit to acquiring a true closer, the Rays are seeking to add one or two, relievers who can handle late-inning, high-leverage duty, creating the possibility that Jake McGee or Joel Peralta will become the primary ninth-inning option.

• They are looking externally for a first baseman and a catcher to pair with Jose Lobaton, though also monitoring the market for free agent incumbents James Loney and Jose Molina.

• They are not planning to acquire a true DH, instead eyeing a rotation consisting primarily of outfielders David DeJesus, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce and Wil Myers, plus possibly a player off the bench.

Overall, Friedman considers it a shorter to-do list than previous winters. "We probably have less critical areas to address than we have in the past," he said at the annual GM meetings.

The Rays tend to make over their bullpen annually, and though they would be open to bringing back incumbent free agent closer Fernando Rodney at the right price, they are looking at other options and, once again, willing to being creative.

"We're not looking as much as 'we need to get a closer' as I'd really like to add another high-leverage late-inning option," Friedman said. "So how that shakes out, we'll figure out in spring training."

McGee, 27, has spent 2½ seasons as a setup man, with one career save. Peralta, who will be 38 in March, has been the primary eighth-inning reliever for three seasons, with 11 career saves but minor-league closing experience.

"We're big fans of both Peralta and McGee and their makeup and their competitiveness," Friedman said. "I think in a lot of ways you can't really answer that question until they do it, but as far as what you can answer going in, yeah, we feel like both guys can handle it."

A role for Joyce, who projects to make around $3.7 million via arbitration, seemed in question after the re-signing of DeJesus, but Friedman said he remains part of the plan.

Friedman said "it's too early to really handicap the chances" of retaining any of their 10 free agents, as the Rays typically wait for the market to play out, seeking better deals. Relievers Jamey Wright and Jesse Crain could also be of interest in addition to Molina, Loney and Rodney.

"Obviously they are talking to other teams, and we're looking at alternate solutions, and we'll figure out if there will be an overlap over time," Friedman said.

Also, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg plans to talk about the stadium situation today with commissioner Bud Selig.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

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