1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays renew Blake Snell, who points out they ‘chose’ to do this

Lefty gets only slight raise to $573,700 for winning Cy Young award as team makes no exception to salary structure.
Blake Snell told the Times last week he found the Rays decision "disappointing.'' [CHRIS URSO | Times (2018)]
Published Mar. 10
Updated Mar. 11

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays decided there was nothing else they could do, that even winning a Cy Young Award wasn’t reason enough to make an exception to their salary structure.

And they made that official Sunday, renewing Blake Snell’s contract for $573,700, thus giving him only a $15,500 raise — or arguably just $5,500, as $10,000 is built into an increase in the major-league minimum — as a reward for his historic season.

And Snell made clear to put the blame on the Rays since they could have done more.

“The Rays have the right under the collective bargaining agreement to renew me at or near the league-minimum salary,’’ he said in statement to the Tampa Bay Times from Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson, his agents at Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon.

“They also have the ability to more adequately compensate me, as other organizations have done with players who have similar achievements to mine. The Rays chose the former.

“I will have no further comment and look forward to competing with my teammates and field staff in our quest to win the World Series in 2019.’’

The Rays similarly renewed infielder Joey Wendle, who had an impressive rookie season, and Ryne Stanek, the reliever who emerged as the primary opener in their innovative pitching strategy, while agreeing to deals with their other pre-arbitration players.

Wendle, who excelled after being picked off Oakland’s discard pile and getting his first opportunity for extended time in the majors, got a raise of $23,500, to $570,400. Stanek, who started 29 games in a ground-breaking role and relieved in 30 others, got a raise of $17,800, to $564,200.

Both, for what it’s worth, got bigger bumps than Snell.

RELATED: Why Rays won’t be giving Blake Snell much of a raise for winning Cy Young

The Rays use a system based primarily on service time, with a slight margin for performance, in setting the salaries for players who don’t have the three years (or, in some cases, close) necessary to qualify for arbitration, and the accompanying riches. (Snell has 2 years, 72 days in the majors and will be eligible for arbitration after this season, Wendle 1.088, Stanek 1.038.)

They typically pay those pre-arb players only slightly above the minimum, which goes up from $545,000 to $555,000 this year, knowing if they can’t work out a deal, they can unilaterally impose the salary with a renewal.

So while some teams, as Snell said, reward players for certain accomplishments, the Rays held fast, deciding there was no benefit in creating precedent or potentially courting goodwill in future negotiations. Team officials declined to talk about the decision, as they do with most contract matters.

When players take the renewal, it’s often just a matter of standing on principle. Especially this year, as the Rays made one accommodation for Snell in dropping the usual $5,000 penalty for being renewed. So Stanek and Wendle can thank him for that. (Or maybe they wouldn’t have taken the renewal if they were going to get docked the five grand.)

Even with three key players having contract issues, manager Kevin Cash said he didn’t expect any carryover into the clubhouse.

“Not concerned about it whatsoever,’’ he said. “Being around these guys, the way they have carried themselves for the past year or whatever, it’s part of the game, it’s part of the business. They’ll handle it very well.’’

Stanek’s case is interesting because of his role as an opener, starting games but only used to get three-six outs.

Critics have claimed one of the Rays’ motives in employing the strategy was to suppress the salaries of their rising young pitchers, as they wouldn’t have the traditional stats (holds and saves in Stanek’s case as a high-end reliever, starts for those working bulk innings behind openers) upon which compensation is based.

Most of the chatter has been toward the future, when Stanek or others are eligible for arbitration.

But could this have been the first example of a disagreement, at least between Dan Lozano’s MVP Sports Group and the Rays, over the value of his contributions?

“I have no idea, honestly; it may or may not be,’’ Stanek said. “That’s not something I’ve really weighed into the whole decision. … I don’t know; it’s just their system and how they do things.’’

Otherwise, Stanek said, he just wants to get past the contract issue and focus on playing. Much the same as Wendle, as down to earth and appreciative as big-leaguers come.

“Until probably a week ago it was something I really didn’t have a ton of knowledge about,’’ Wendle said. “We sat down with our representation and felt like it was the best move at the time. It’s not something I want to think too much about or focus on at this point. … Things like that are why we have people to help us out, agents and stuff like that. So I’m going to take the advice of what they feel like is best.’’

Snell, who told the Times last week that he found the Rays policy “disappointing” and wanted to be treated “fair,’’ knows what would have been best. A little bigger reward for pitching’s biggest prize.

Contact Marc Topkin at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.


  1. Tampa Bay Rays' Willy Adames, left, scores on a throwing error by Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger after a single by Jesus Aguilar, as catcher Will Smith goes after the ball during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) MARK J. TERRILL  |  AP
    Rays 8, Dodgers 7 (11): A one-out rally in the 9th allows Rays to tie, then a Meadows homer in 11th puts them ahead to stay.
  2. Rays rookie starter Brendan McKay delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Dodgers on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. MARK J. TERRILL  |  AP
    “Super cool” is how he describes the opportunity Wednesday against the Dodgers.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Nate Lowe (35) is seen in the dugout during the third inning against Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, Sept. 07, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.   ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Lowe make his fourth pro start at third in a critical game for Rays; Brendan McKay is on the mound.
  4. Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Colin Poche, shown pitching last month in Houston, has had a tough stretch at times,. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    Rookie relievers, pitching in September for the first time, are high on that list, and it’s quite noticeable when they falter.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Colin Poche leaves the field after giving up two runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) CHRIS CARLSON  |  AP
    Dodgers 7, Rays 5: Snell’s solid return aside, it was a lost night for Rays as rookie relievers Poche and Fairbanks struggled.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays' Tommy Pham, right, connects for a double in front of Houston Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos, left, during a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    Rays Journal: Pham is dealing with right hand and elbow injuries that have limited his production: “It’s frustrating.”
  7. Picturesque Dodger Stadium, where Rays take on Dodgers tonight. MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays visiting NL best in a YouTube only game, third visit to Dodger Stadium in seven years after none in first 15.
  8. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws to a Los Angeles Dodgers batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) CHRIS CARLSON  |  AP
    With the team in the playoff hunt, Snell comes back with two perfect innings, striking out four, hitting 96 mph.
  9. Rays sensation Austin Meadows, right, and teammate Willy Adames will have plenty to celebrate if the Rays can make ground in the wild-card race this week. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    The multi-step process starts with registering online for a “postseason ticket opportunity."
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez works against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Denver. Pirates All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez has been arrested on charges of pornography and soliciting a child. Vazquez was taken into custody Tuesday morning by Pennsylvania State Police on one count of computer pornography/solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP
    The girl was 13 when the relationship began, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says.