It’s really hard to not like the Rays if you are just a fan of baseball. They do more with less than pretty much any team in the league. They have the worst ball park in the majors, they play in front of sparse crowds most nights (19k on average – lowest in the league), and still manage to compete in usually the toughest division in baseball year in and year out. They haven’t finished lower than 3rd in the AL East since 2007. Their highest paid player is David Price who signed for a one year arbitration deal of $10M. There only long term contracts are Evan Longoria and Matt Moore who both are likely under market value. They aren’t afraid to trade away great players or even just simply let them go in FA (see Carl Crawford and BJ Upton). They have managed to keep the farm system stocked for years. They are what every smaller market team wishes their team could be like. (given financial constraints) This past offseason they parted with two major contributors in James Shields and BJ Upton, both of whom were in line for market priced pay days the Rays couldn’t afford.
What did they do to replace that production?
Major Off-Season Moves:
- Acquired OF prospect Wil Myers from Royals
- Signed 2B Kelly Johnson
- Acquired SS Yunel Escobar
- Acquired 1B James Loney
This looks about like what the Rays would do. Traded for one blue chip prospect in Wil Myers. He’ll likely be a superstar for the Rays while they control him and he’ll either sign him to a team friendly extension or trade him for more prospects. The rest of the signings look like mildly liked veterans that the Rays could get for discounted prices and hope to hit on a few of them. Kelly Johnson is a solid player and will allow Ben Zobrist to play full time in the OF. Yunel Escobar didn’t endear himself in Toronto after an unfortunate makeup incident. He’s talented, but comes with some baggage. I’m not so sure the talent will come to fruition in Tampa. James Loney will play first, but will likely platoon a decent amount while Ryan Roberts slides over to fill in.
Let’s get tot he rest of that lineup. [Read more...]