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Austin Meadows gets only meager raise as Rays renew his contract

Rays Journal: Ryan Yarbrough also is renewed as part of the Rays usual handling of pre-arbitration players.
Yoshi Tsutsugo fields the ball in the fourth inning during the Rays' loss to the Blue Jays in Dunedin. This week he will be looking for a rental home in the St. Petersburg area. [SCOTT KEELER | Times] [SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES]

DUNEDIN – Austin Meadows obviously did a lot for the Rays last season, leading the team with 33 homers, 89 RBIs and a .922 on-base plus slugging percentage, being selected to the American League All-Star team and elected co-MVP.

For all that, he will get only a $21,500 raise.

After making $557,400 last year, Meadows’ salary for this season will be $578,900.

Meadows, and agent Victor Menocal, didn’t agree to the deal, but didn’t really have a choice, or much leverage. Players with less than the three years of service time (plus a small group with two-plus) to be eligible for the riches of arbitration are subject to signing at pretty much whatever the team wants.

When Meadows and pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who after a recent change also has the same Excel Sports agent, didn’t agree as the other 25 players in that class did, the Rays renewed their contracts.

Yarbrough, who made $563,400 last year in going 11-6, 4.13, will get a $15,100 raise to $578,500.

All teams limit the earnings of the pre-arbitration players. The Rays are one that adheres to a strict scale, tied more so to service time than performance, and within close proximity to the major-league minimum, which will be $563,500, up $8,500 from last year, which accounts for part of the increase.

Twenty-four of the other players were signed under those parameters, with Willy Adames getting the most at $579,500. Ji-Man Choi, who came to the majors from Korea and is on a different scale, will make $850,000 for the second straight season.

It’s not uncommon for them to renew a player or two each year. And sometimes they have ongoing talks that can lead to bigger deals. That was the case last year, when Blake Snell, coming off a Cy Young winning season, was renewed with a raise of only $15,500 to $573,700, and then less than two weeks later agreed to a five-year, $50 million deal. The Rays recently initiated extension talks with Meadows.

Tsutsugo has interesting day

Yoshi Tsutsugo ground out and struck out in two at-bats against Jays lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, the frontline starter who came over from the Dodgers. Tsutsugo said facing an elite pitcher was a good test. “It was very exciting to face such a great pitcher,’’ he said via interpreter Louis Chao. “My timing wasn’t right, a little better (outcome) should have happened so that’s something I need to adjust.’’ … Tsutsugo was on the trip so he could use Tuesday’s off-day to find a rental home in the St. Pete area for the season. “Hopefully I can find a place and that will let me really focus on baseball,’’ he said. … Tsutsugo played the last 10 years in the Japanese league, which announced Monday the start of its season will be postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus threat. “The health of the fans and the players are the most important thing,’’ he said. “I feel very sorry they have to postpone it, but I think the players need a good environment to prepare themselves.’’

Montreal matters

Montreal’s public consultation office said Monday that it needed more detailed information to decide on the merits of the “very controversial” plan to build a stadium in Peel Basin area that would be key to the proposed season-sharing plan with the Rays, per CTVnews.ca.

Game details: Blue Jays 8, Rays 3

After Blake Snell walked four of the first five, Trevor Richards gave up a grand slam to Danny Jansen as the Rays (9-6-4) were quickly behind 5-0. .. Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier was up to his old tricks, making a running and leaping grab in right-center to rob Vlad Guerrero Jr., who pointed at him then threw up his arms. … Jalen Beeks “looked really good’ in allowing one hit over 2 2/3 innings, pitching coach Kyle Snyder said. … Andrew Kittredge was also used for 2 1/3 innings in an effort to get him stretched out for longer relief stints. … Down 8-0, the Rays rallied for three in the ninth but had Dalton Kelly thrown out at the plate.

Miscellany

Cash said the Rays, who’ve scored only 12 runs total in their last six games, could use Tuesday’s day off: “It’s very welcome. Our last couple days I think we’ve showed it on the field. Everybody to a degree has probably hit that lull. So the off-day will be good and hopefully we can come back a little energized from that.’’ … Not all the Rays will be off. Tyler Glasnow and Yarbrough will throw a simulated game on Port Charlotte with Mike Zunino and Kevan Smith catching, and Daniel Robertson and Nate Lowe hitting. … Monday marked 25 years to the day Tampa Bay was awarded an expansion team, called the Devil Rays, by Major League Baseball. … It took the team bus nearly three hours Monday to get from Port Charlotte to Dunedin, forcing a late-starting and abbreviated batting practice session.

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