Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays to pursue offseason plan at GM meetings

Wednesday, by the Rays' count, was Day 4 of MLB's offseason business calendar, but with as much work as they've already put in, executive VP Andrew Friedman said it seemed like Day 40.

That includes talking to other teams (and not just about LHP David Price) and to outside free agents, plus some of the 10 they set free, all while plotting how to fill several large holes (first base, closer, DH), deal with 10 arbitration eligibles and fit it all into a payroll expected to be around the same $60 million as this past season while remaining competitive.

So, how's it going so far?

"It's still too early," Friedman said. "I think every October and into early November we're overwhelmed and not feeling all that confident that we'll be able to execute on our plan, and this year is no different.

"We're working a lot right now trying to put ourselves in the best position to execute our plan as effectively as we can. It's still too early to really say much."

This will be a key week, not as much for making moves but focusing on what Friedman openly admits is an "ever-evolving" plan, as the GMs gather in Orlando for their annual get-together, in advance of the traditional December winter meetings.

Friedman figures to be busy.

"A lot of conversations," he said. "I don't necessarily expect any news. We've already had a lot of conversations up to this point, and I expect (this) week to provide an opportunity to clarify some things and give us a better sense of what's more real vs. what's not."

Despite all the work done so far, and despite all the rumors of the Dodgers and Rangers and others making a pitch for Price, Friedman acknowledged it really is still early in the decision-making process: "With the obvious caveat that things can change, but, yeah, that's how it feels to me."

RUMOR MILL: ESPN's Buster Olney says the Rays are much better off trading Price now than waiting until midseason since they might be in the race and find it harder to do so. … The re-signing of OF David DeJesus seems to put OF Matt Joyce's role, and future, in further question. … The Reds' signing of backup C Brayan Pena frees up Ryan Hanigan, whom the Rays have liked.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: It's uncertain what impact 1B James Loney switching agents from CAA to Legacy has on returning, but guys don't usually change with the idea of signing a low-end deal. Mlbtraderumors.com projects two years, $16 million. … With OF Wil Myers and RHP Chris Archer two of the three finalists, the AL rookie of the year award will be announced around 6:20 p.m. Monday on the MLB Network. … There is also an owners meeting in Orlando this week, allowing principal owner Stuart Sternberg and commissioner Bud Selig to discuss the stadium stalemate. … ESPN's Keith Olbermann deemed Myers the "worst person" in sports for his bad-hair appearance on MLB Network. … Minor-league INF Ryan Brett was part of history last week, called out trying to steal second then ruled safe on the first reversal in the Arizona Fall League testing of the new instant replay system. … 2013 first-round draft picks Nick Ciuffo and Riley Unroe spent last week in the Dominican Republic as part of the team's "study abroad" program, living in the academy and sampling the food and culture. … RHP Alex Cobb had his No. 12 jersey retired by Vero Beach High. … Sternberg and team volunteers will again partner with KABOOM! to build a children's playground Saturday at the Union Academy Family Center in Tarpon Springs.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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