ST. PETERSBURG — Rays officials say they will work diligently throughout the offseason pursuing free agents and considering trades to improve their bullpen.
But don't expect them to close a deal for a closer.
"I don't think that's realistic," executive VP Andrew Friedman said at Tuesday's season wrapup media session.
Though Friedman said they'd like to have a single pitcher to get the final three outs, the high cost and limited availability, plus the Rays' financial limitations, make it more likely they will add two or three relievers who can face left-handers and right-handers and "have the stuff to pitch high-leverage innings" and handle late-game situations.
"Our goal is to have our bullpen be even more of a strength for us," Friedman said.
Manager Joe Maddon and Friedman said they expected DH Pat Burrell and C Dioner Navarro — who had disappointing seasons — to rebound.
Overall, Friedman said the team's performance illustrated the fine line between a disappointing season and a successful one: "Our goal going into any season is to play competitive games in September, and this year we barely accomplished that. I think that the true talent level of this club was greater than that."
CROWD CONTROL: The Rays didn't only come up short on the field.
With an increase of 3.5 percent from 2008, the Rays' total attendance of 1,874,962 was nearly 20 percent shy of their goal of the major-league average, and team president Matt Silverman said the shortfall is likely to impact their payroll in future seasons.
"It's an important data point for us," Silverman said. "There certainly is a connection between the attendance at Tropicana Field and the funds that we're able to invest throughout our organization. We stretched this year (to $63 million) coming off the World Series and that will certainly have effects on future years, as will our better understanding of attendance from this past year."
MISCELLANY: The Rays will have the 16th pick, but — due to a compensation pick — make the 17th selection in next year's draft. … The Rays Baseball Foundation made a $25,000 grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast and $60,000 grants to Girls Inc. and Devereux Kids.