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Rays brass looking for opportunity

Published Dec. 4, 2005
Updated Dec. 4, 2005

New executive vice president Andrew Friedman heads to Dallas today, prepared for his first winter meetings in charge of running the Devil Rays. How will he approach the task? What does he plan to do? Here are his answers to some of those questions:What is your overall approach?

The outlook for us going in is truly to be opportunistic. It's to figure out the effects of the free-agent market and what effect it has on the trade market and vice versa. Our goal here is to build a sustainable winning tradition.Are you concerned about making your first "big" move and how it will be received?

Our biggest challenge is making moves that help us in 2006 yet also help us in '07 and '08. We're not caught up in making a move or not making a move because it would be the first. In February we'll postmortem the offseason as a whole.Based on the signings thus far, have the free-agent market prices gone a little higher than you anticipated?

A touch.Given those soaring contracts, is it more likely you'll fill holes through trades?

It's too early to tell. We're exploring both markets and are willing to move when the right situation presents itself on either front.Are you more likely to make a preemptive trade, or wait to see how the market continues to develop?

It depends on the particular situation. Some are better to wait, some make more sense to be in front of. There is no mandate to trade anyone and no guarantee we will trade anyone.How do you assess the current team?

One of the areas we'll focus on this offseason is improving our pitching and defense. We're confident we're going to score enough runs.Do you have money to spend, or can you only take on salary if you shed some?

That's a good question. We're going into this under the operating assumption that we are going to grow (the payroll) 10-20 percent. This offseason maybe it's 5 (percent), maybe 30 (percent), and next year maybe it's 5, maybe it's 30. It's about being able to sustain a winner here and really being opportunistic, and if we can take on money and it makes sense for us for '06 and '07, we'll do it. Like any business, we're looking at this in a three-year window financially.With all the groundwork you've done, would you be surprised to come away from Dallas without doing something?

I'm learning quickly not to be surprised by anything. There's certainly no guarantee we will do something. We're not going to feel pressured to do something just because it's the winter meetings and we're supposed to. If the right situation arises, we think we've put in the advance work to be able to move quickly and make something happen that works for us.Can the team be better this season than last?

Our goal is to improve over 2005 pitching-wise and defensively, and we expect improvement.