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)

Tampa Bay Rays' payroll stretch in 2010 may cause recoil in future seasons

ST. PETERSBURG — Closer Rafael Soriano is a valuable and expensive addition, the $7.25 million salary he agreed to after the trade from Atlanta making him the fourth-highest paid among the current Rays.

But the real cost may come in future seasons.

Team officials indicated Friday that pushing the payroll to, and possibly beyond, a franchise-record $70 million — a total team president Matt Silverman described as not sustainable and "well above our comfort level" — to make a run at the playoffs this season could lead to potentially significant reductions in 2011 and beyond.

"We extended last year, we're overextended heading into this year," Silverman said. "We'll see the effect of this in the future. But for now we're focused on what Rafael can add to us in 2010."

Their hope is that by adding Soriano to what they consider their best-ever team, they can make a run to the postseason. And they hope enough fans ride along to cover the costs.

"Last season we were shooting for league average in attendance and fell well short," Silverman said. "This season we will be gunning again for that league-average attendance. There is that connection between the revenues that we generate and the investment we can make throughout our organization."

Adding Soriano won't require any corresponding payroll reductions this season, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. (Nor should it impact a potential Pat Burrell-for-Milton Bradley trade since both make $9 million in 2010.) Though Silverman said they "probably" wouldn't have the flexibility to make a significant pennant-race addition, he acknowledged "you never rule anything out."

That's because under principal owner Stuart Sternberg, the Rays don't operate with set payroll limits for each season but what amounts to a flex spending plan over rolling three-year periods. So just as they increased from $43 million in 2008 to $63 million last year and now to $70 million, they could cut back in 2011. Especially since their four highest-paid players — Carlos Peña, Carl Crawford, Burrell and Soriano — will be free agents, taking more than $36 million off the books.

But first, they are determined to challenge the Yankees and Red Sox in 2010, and they expect Soriano to be a key player. Friedman called him a "significant" addition who transforms the bullpen into a strength.

"When we get through this season we'll address what we'll do thereafter, but right now we're focused on trying to get back to the playoffs," Friedman said.

Soriano said in quotes provided by the Rays that he welcomed the challenge of closing in baseball's toughest division.

"I know the AL East is made up of strong teams, but because of the type of pitcher I am, I think I can handle it," he said.

There is more work to do. The deadline to tender contracts to players is midnight tonight, and the Rays are deciding what to do with arbitration-eligible catchers Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach, with the possibility they'll negotiate with both, keep one and nontender or trade the other. Outfielder Gabe Gross appears to be a nontender candidate.

FAST FACTS

2010 top-paid Rays

Carlos Peña$10,125,000

Carl Crawford$10,000,000

Pat Burrell$9,000,000

Rafael Soriano$7,250,000

Dan Wheeler$3,500,000

Tampa Bay Rays' payroll stretch in 2010 may cause recoil in future seasons 12/11/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 12, 2009 1:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL

    Blogs

    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  2. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  3. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Ryne Stanek has had his early struggles, but Wednesday he showed his high-octane potential, working around a one-out walk to strike out the mighty Mike Trout (on a 98.4 mph fastball) and legendary Albert Pujols (98.7), both swinging.

  5. Rays journal: More bullpen changes as Diego Moreno heads to DL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays bullpen has another new look.

    Rays reliever Diego Moreno, pitching Sunday against the Yankees, heads the DL with shoulder bursitis.