By MARC TOPKIN
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities.
"Expectations were to utilize these few days to catch up, to check in, to get a sense of where teams are at, what their ambitions are for this winter, what they're trying to accomplish," Rays GM Erik Neander said.
"For the most part, we're exiting here with a better understanding of what teams are trying to address, so it's certainly helpful to have that information in hand. Now it's a matter of processing it, figuring out what kinds of fits in to where we are and what we want to accomplish, and see where things go from there."
With pitching available to deal, the Rays figure to be popular targets for phone calls and speculation. And with the Cardinals in need in arms and deep in young position players, there already is speculation about them matching up at different levels.
REJECTION TIME: Free agent RHP Alex Cobb is set to decline the Rays' one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer by today's 5 p.m. deadline. That allows him to pursue a longer and more lucrative deal elsewhere, with the Cubs and Twins most rumored, and the Rays to get a compensatory draft pick when he does.
FAMILIAR FACE: Former Rays OF Melvin (B.J.) Upton was at the meetings hotel Wednesday talking with teams as he searches for a job after missing all of 2017 due to injury. Upton, 33, still lives in Tampa and said he would be interested in coming back to the Rays.
BOUNCE BACK: Agent Scott Boras said he expects big things from RHP Brad Boxberger after two injury-abbreviated seasons. "He's healthy, and that's the big thing," Boras said. "That's a great team for him to be on, with the way they use the bullpen. I like the way (Kevin Cash) handles the relievers. He looks out for the guys."