Four of the core players on the Rays 2010 roster as well as core players for the future of this team must either agree on contracts (whether it be one year or multi year deals) by Jan 19th, or both team and players reps must file their respective numbers to arbitrators.
For the long term future relationship of team and player, its always a little better if the team and the player are on the same page as far as a players worth. While sometimes that might seem far fetched in free agency, when it comes to arbitration, agents and front offices are generally much more on the same page. It’s in the best interest of both parties to do so. If the player overplays his hand, the team can just move to abitration. If the team underplays its hand, not only can the player go to arbitration, but also might develop some hard feelings towards the team for undervaluing him.
"“We have until the 19th to reach an agreement,” said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. “And for the most part, the last couple of years, we’ve been very successful avoiding a hearing. There have been instances where we haven’t been able to [reach an agreement]. And that’s why the system is in place.“It’s definitely sub-optimal for both parties. But the process is in place for a reason. And it’s always our goal and intent to avoid a hearing, and that’s exactly how we’ll tackle our four remaining situations.”"
During Andrew Friedman’s tenure, only two players have gone to arbitration, Dioner Navarro (2) and Josh Paul (1) and both lost.
JP Howell, Matt Garza, BJ Upton, and Jason Bartlett are the players eligible for arbitration this year who have not agreed to contracts already with the club.
2010 Outlook – Howell should be a key contributor to the Rays in 2010. He is most likely slated to be the 8th inning guy in front of Rafael Soriano. While he did an admirable job closing for the Rays in 09, his best role is as a setup man after the starting pitchers come out of the game. His stuff contrasts the stuff of our starters so much, that he becomes quite dangerous when being used that way.
2010 Outlook – The Rays are looking for Upton to rebound and put up numbers like he did in the 09 playoffs. He possesses a rare combo of speed, eye and power, but has never been able to put it all together for the Rays. He has already turned himself into one of the premier base stealers in the league, and now much finally harness that raw power. Starting CF with Gold Glove caliber fielding skills.
2010 Outlook – In my eyes, Garza is the Rays second best pitcher. He has arguably the best stuff on the staff, and last season showed he could horse it up and go 200+ IP. The other thing that I liked from last season was the he brought his K numbers up to where I felt they should be, 8-10 SO/9. If he can get his temper under control and truly learn to develop his raw potential, he can be as good as pitcher as their is in the AL. Pencil him as the number 2 starter.
2010 Outlook – Bartlett has developed into one of the premier all around players in all of baseball, and certainly as the SS position. His glove alone is worth a few million dollars a year. His .320 BA and .879 OPS were remarkable considering he doesn’t hit for much power. He steals, hits for average and fields his position as well as any other SS in the game. His name has popped up in random trade rumors, and I hope deeply, that the Rays don’t consider moving him.