Wednesday's Hollywood ending to the postseason is the formal beginning of offseason business for the Rays, who are expected to have a busy winter.
First up is free agency, which is formally granted this morning for eight Rays: starter Alex Cobb; 1B/DH Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison; relievers Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter and Sergio Romo; OF Peter Bourjos; and INF Trevor Plouffe.
The Rays have what amounts to an exclusive window to re-sign then until 5 p.m. Monday, when players are free to sign elsewhere. No pre-emptive deals are expected.
By Monday, the Rays also have to decide on — and are expected to go ahead with — making a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer to Cobb, essentially hoping that within the allotted 10 days he turns it down, allowing them to get draft pick compensation when he signs elsewhere.
As those eight players come off the 40-man roster, the Rays have to reinstate four from the 60-day DL: INF Matt Duffy and pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, Taylor Guerrieri, Shawn Tolleson (who might be released after missing the full season and is recovering from Tommy John surgery).
The Rays also are expected to shortly hire a first base / assistant hitting coach, with Triple-A hitting coach Ozzie Timmons among the candidates.
KEY ANALYST OUT: Noted pitching analyst Josh Kalk, an industry expert in PITCHf/x data and injury prevention studies and modeling, has left the Rays. Kalk, said to be pursuing other opportunities, joined the Rays in March 2009 as a research and development analyst, and in December 2015 was promoted to director of pitching research and development.
Game 7 tidbits
The Dodgers turned to pitching legends Don Newcombe and Sandy Koufax for ceremonial first pitches before Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday against the Astros. Newcombe tossed the ball to former OF Rick Monday, while lefty Koufax threw to Tampa native and former 1B Steve Garvey. Newcombe, 91, hung on to the arm of Koufax, 81, as they walked onto the field. They stood midway between the mound and home plate to make their throws. Newcombe was a member of the franchise's 1955 World Series championship team. Koufax was World Series MVP in 1963 and 1965. … Fernando Valenzuela celebrated his 57th birthday at Dodger Stadium. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 1981, when the Dodgers won the World Series and he earned a Game 3 victory. Now a broadcaster for the team, Valenzuela had a 173-153 record and a 3.54 ERA in 17 seasons with the team. Fellow Dodgers broadcaster Pepe Yniguez sang "Happy Birthday" as Valenzuela made his way through the crowded press box before the game. He also received birthday greetings in Spanish and Japanese.. … The Dodgers' 3-1 win in World Series Game 6 drew an average of 23 million viewers on the three Fox outlets, down 4 percent from the 24 million for the Chicago Cubs' 9-3 win over Cleveland that forced Game 7 last year. Fox said Tuesday night's game averaged 22,229,000 on the main Fox network, 535,000 on Fox Deportes and 244,500 who streamed digitally on Fox Sports Go. Last year's Game 6 averaged 23.4 million on Fox, 425,000 on Fox Deportes and 151,000 on Fox Sports Go. This was the second-most-watched Game 6 since the New York Yankees' Series-ending 7-3 win over Philadelphia in 2009.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.