NEW YORK — No matter how far the Rays go this season, it won't alter principal owner Stuart Sternberg's plans to reduce the payroll — potentially significantly — from the record $72 million.
"No question. Nothing can change that," Sternberg said Tuesday. "Unfortunately there's nothing that can happen between now and April that can change that unless Joe Maddon hits the lottery and wants to donate it or I hit the lottery."
Cutting the payroll — to the $50 million range or lower — will mean breaking up the team that the Rays worked to build given that top players such as Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and Carlos Peña are pending free agents.
"We put everything in place to have it happen, to put us in a position so we'd be able to keep adding, keep signing, (doing) more long-term deals, stuff like that," he said. "It wasn't meant to be."
More from Sternberg:
• The Rays "can't come close" to turning a profit this year.
• He is "not optimistic" season ticket sales will rise as much for 2011 based on this year's success as they did from 2008 to 2009, which was only half of what they needed anyway.
• Having a large lead over the Red Sox for the wild card is the most surprising part of this season.