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For Friedman, Rays remain nice fit

Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman shakes hands with outfielder Wil Myers during a workout at the Rays 2014 season Spring Training in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.
Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman shakes hands with outfielder Wil Myers during a workout at the Rays 2014 season Spring Training in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.
Published Oct. 12, 2014

There may well be a time when Andrew Friedman decides he has had enough of the increasingly uphill battle the Rays fight and is ready for a different challenge.

There is talk that the Dodgers, who as of Saturday hadn't fired current GM Ned Colletti, nevertheless have Friedman atop their list to replace him. The Angels came hard for Friedman after the 2011 season, as did his hometown Astros. Interest by the Cubs became increasingly public at one point, other teams less obvious. If he sticks around, you can be sure there will be more.

Teams can tempt Friedman with what he'll never have with the Rays: massive amounts of money.

They can offer him millions in salary that would set his family up for generations, immense budgets that would let him operate at the top of the free agent and trade markets, and unlimited resources in terms of staff, facilities, support.

But no matter what they promise in terms of authority and autonomy, they can't replicate what Friedman has with the Rays — an open, symbiotic relationship with his bosses, team president Matt Silverman and principal owner Stuart Sternberg.

They were acquainted first, came to the Rays as a team and built the franchise together, sharing philosophies and methodologies, seemingly more as partners than owner-boss-employee. Surely, they have their disagreements and issues, but nothing seemingly like the backstabbing, bickering and butt-covering that is common in other front offices.

Friedman also enjoys the same type of close working relationship in the other direction with manager Joe Maddon, which is also not always the norm.

Friedman, 37, works without a contract, as is Sternberg's policy for top executives. He does not, as some write, have an ownership stake.

Friedman might eventually get frustrated with the Rays (as might Sternberg if the stadium issue drags on) and opt to try something else — take a five-year deal, bank $20 million or so and see what happens. He might find he enjoys that challenge just as much. He might win more, which is the ultimate goal.

But he won't have the same comfortable situation he has operated in for the past nine years. And that's something he may have to put a value on.

MADDON-ING: Talks on a new deal with Maddon seem likely to get under way sooner than later. While Maddon, whose latest contract expires after the 2015 season, has said he wants to stay, he would certainly be in line for a raise from his current annual average of $2 million.

If they can't work something out, and especially if another team was inquiring of his availability, it's not unreasonable to think the Rays would consider trading him rather than letting him walk after next season. Who knows. Maybe he and Friedman could both end up with the Dodgers.

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RAYS RUMBLINGS: OF Kevin Kiermaier, who led the Rays with a .765 on-base plus slugging percentage, was named to Baseball America's All-Rookie team. … The working agreement with rookie-level Princeton (W. Va.) was extended through 2016.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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