Signing Kevin Cash for what the Tampa Bay Times has learned is around $5 million over a five-year contract, and potentially longer with options, before he ever managed a game was a tremendous show of faith and commitment by the Rays.
Not announcing the terms at the time, or confirming even the length of the deal after it was reported last week, was an odd way to handle what is certainly positive news. Rays officials must have had some reason, though they could hardly have expected it to remain a secret too long.
Giving Cash that lengthy a deal is obviously good for him, certainly more security (and more money) than he ever had as a player, and eliminates any reason to look over his shoulder if the first year or two go bad.
Plus, it sends a message to the players and staff that they should buy in and invest in Cash because of how much his bosses think of him and that he will be around a while.
Cash's extensive communication throughout the clubhouse has already gotten rave reviews. That's a benefit as he is already being tested, trying to juggle several somewhat difficult situations, such as potentially platooning at shortstop and centerfield, usually foundation positions, and having to plug holes in a rotation that was supposed to be the strength of the team.
His boss, baseball ops president Matt Silverman, praises him for being ahead of the curve and anticipating what he needs to do work on. "It's a learning process for everyone — the coaches, the front office and Kevin," Silverman said. "But the communication continues to be good, the trust level is high and we're all in this together."
Game management is different, and after an admittedly slow start, Cash said he is starting to feel comfortable in the dugout as well.
"The first couple games I was probably out of synch," Cash said, "but since then I feel every day that I'm gaining some confidence, that I'm on top of the communication with Charlie (Montoyo, the third-base coach). … I think the flow of the game has improved."
Bench coach Tom Foley has provided a few nudges on potential upcoming moves, but Cash said his biggest issue has been prioritizing the need to signal to Montoyo what he wants to do in every offensive situation.
Even amid celebrations.
"This sounds crazy," Cash said, "but when we score a run rather than going and high-fiving the guy, I need to get with Charlie right then, and then go high-five the guy."
Rays rumblings: Among the pre-arbitration players signed to one-year deals, RHP Brad Boxberger got $521,400. … Singing LH Jonny Venters to a two-year minor-league deal as he rehabs from a third Tommy John surgery is a smart low-risk, high-upside move, even though he's unlikely to pitch until next spring. Plus, he's known as a great guy. … Former Rays DH Luke Scott, who played in South Korea last year, is now trying Mexico, signing with the Pericos de Puebla. … C Oscar Hernandez breaking a hamate bone in D-backs' camp could actually hurt the Rays' chances of having him returned since a DL stint figures into satisfying the Rule 5 equation. … Hancock Bank has dropped its sponsorship of the Trop's premium level club. … Former RHP Andy Sonnanstine's debut doing internet radio with Neil Solondz last week wasn't just a cameo as he's interested in a regular broadcast gig.
The fourth of our weekly guesses at the makeup of the Opening Day roster:
Pitchers (12): Chris Archer, Grant Balfour, Jeff Beliveau, Brad Boxberger, Alex Cobb, Ernesto Frieri, Steve Geltz, Kevin Jepsen, Nathan Karns, Jake Odorizzi, C.J. Riefenhauser, Kirby Yates.
Catchers (2): Rene Rivera, x-Bobby Wilson
Infielders: (6): Asdrubal Cabrera, x-Jake Elmore, Logan Forsythe, Nick Franklin, James Loney, Evan Longoria.
Outfielders/DH (5): Brandon Guyer, John Jaso, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr.
DL (4): RHP Alex Colome, LHP Jake McGee, LHP Matt Moore, LHP Drew Smyly