Now the long off season begins for the Rays and next season the roster will look very different. Here are some of the players that are leaving, might leave, or might be returning next year and of course, my educated but opinionated ideas on each player.
Carl Crawford – The Rays best player and face of the franchise for years, C.C. is most likely leaving this off season. Crawford has been Mr. Everything for the Rays and now with his contract up, it is nearly impossible for the Rays to resign him. C.C. has said he would want to stay in Tampa and loves the team, but let’s be real, money speaks loudly. There are rumors of him and the Angels (good friends with Torii Hunter) or staying in the A.L. East and going to Boston (NY doesn’t need a corner outfielder this off season). I would love to see him stay, but with the big time payroll cuts (don’t get me started) the chances of him taking pennies to stay is almost idiotic to believe.
Carlos Pena – Fan favorite Carlos Pena is the “power” of the Rays order, but could be leaving too (Oakland has been a rumor). Pena has had a down season and not many teams are willing to take an older, low average power hitter. He won’ be asking too much, but with Friedman and Sternberg being morons, he might not stay. My gut feeling is that he will be back, but it might be a very short contract and chances that he could leave too are also very high.
Rafael Soriano – The Rays record setting closer signed with mega-jerk agent Scott Boras, meaning that he wants big money. Soriano had a break out year and many teams could use a shut down closer. But at age 30, how much can he expect to make? Can teams sign him and do they want to take a risk on a pitcher that has had one solid season at closer? He is good and will get his money, but it won’t be with the Rays. He will end up somewhere else because the asking price will be too high for the budget cutting Rays.
Bullpen – Some other names that are eligible to go are Balfour, Wheeler, and Cormier. Balfour is over 30 and chances are he will return. The Rays need him big time and he has proven he can still throw strikes and is very reliable. Wheeler and Cormier are terrible, Wheeler being the worst. I pray they get rid of him and Cormier too, but if they need relief pitchers for cheap, they might keep them still. Benoit is the big name out of all of the bull pen guys that they need to keep the most. The veteran signed after being cut by Texas and arm surgery, but quickly came into his own and had a great shut down season making the combination of Benoit to Soriano one of MLB’s best. Hopefully they bring him back, but money always talks big in the off season.