From Marc Topkin – The Rays will have to make some tender contract decisions by midnight tonight or the players will go to arbitration. By offering the player a tender contract, they can hope to sign the player to less than they would have made at arbitration. The Rays can cut the player if they can’t come to an agreement. The player can sign with the club or test free agency and possibly the minor leagues. Here are the players and some ideas on what exactly the Rays are going to do with them.
Jason Bartlett – The Rays are going to sign him to a tender offer, probably around $5 million. Bartlett is simply too valuable to let walk away at this point. The Rays can either start him at short stop this season or trade him before Spring begins an get something in return.
Matt Garza – Not even a question, going to offer him a tender contract.
B.J. Upton – Just like Garza, not even a question.
Andy Sonnanstine – One of the few pitchers remaining from the bullpen, the Rays have to make him an offer and keep him here. Andy is still a decent pitcher and can eat up innings or even spot start when needed.
Dioner Navarro – No way they offer him any kind of deal after he walked out on the team. They will let him go.
Lance Cormier – The Rays need arms and big time. This is a tough call for a pitcher that was less than great last season. The Rays may try to make the 20% pay cut on him and hope to resign him just to keep a live body down in the bullpen at this point.
Willy Aybar – He has already declined a club option and is expecting more pay, but for a bat off the bench or a less than able 1st and 3rd baseman, he is simply not worth the money. The Rays will probably make him an offer, but I doubt he will accept it.
Dan Johnson – The Rays may need him at DH and 1st, much like Aybar. Johnson is a first year arbitration eligible player which means he is in line for pay raise. The Rays may chose not to offer him a tender and hope to resign him to a minor league deal, but they need to keep him around and give him a chance to make the club and show what his bat can do.
J.P. Howell – He is scheduled to make a lot of money (made 1.8 million last season and didn’t even make it out of the minors). The Rays can’t lower his salary anymore so they will try to negotiate something between the two parties in hopes of keeping him to a low deal and pray he comes back soon.
So Friedman and Sternberg will be up late tonight making decisions and hoping players take the deal and come back to the club.