Rays Notes: Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi at Rays Prospects Camp, Kyle Farnsworth, David Price
By Robbie Knopf
The Rays annual Prospect Development Camp is an awesome experience from every participant. They got to practice at Tropicana Field, get their own locker in the Trop, and even talk to the Tampa Bay media just like they were a real Rays player. The two prospects that attracted most of the attention were the headliners in the Rays’ recent trade with the Kansas City Royals: outfielder Wil Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi. Myers talked to Adam Berry of MLB.com about his opportunity to join the Rays organization and his mentality as he approaches his first season with the team.
"“It’s every person’s dream to be in the big leagues, so obviously that is my ultimate goal,” Myers said. “Every ballplayer has confidence that they’re ready for the Major League level, but that’s not my decision. That’s for the front office. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”“I just try to stay away from it. I just want to go out and do my job, and just try to get better every day,” Myers said. “It definitely feels different after being with the Royals for four years, but I’m excited to be here, new opportunity and definitely looking forward to Spring Training and seeing some new faces out here. I’m excited about it.”"
It seems like every year the Rays have a different top prospect crack the big league roster with expectations for them going haywire- Matt Moore in 2012, Jeremy Hellickson in 2011, Wade Davis in 2010, David Price in 2009, Evan Longoria in 2008, and B.J. Upton and Delmon Young in 2007. That’s an awfully talented group of players- not everyone lived up to expectations but each one has experienced their share of success in the major leagues- but Wil Myers had a chance to be right up there with the best of them. The Rays will be patient with Myers knowing exactly what they have with him but are extremely excited to see what he can do for them this coming season and over the next several years.
Odorizzi is in a different position compared to the other 30 prospects at the Rays’ prospect camp because he has some big league time under his belt in the form of a pair of starts with the Royals at the tail end of 2012. Odorizzi talked about the competition he’ll face to begin 2013 in the Rays’ rotation.
"“But I think that’s better, honestly. I think that’s what breeds better competition, when you go up against the best,” Odorizzi said. “Nothing’s easy, so you want it to be as tough as possible to bring the best out of you. That’s what I’m really looking forward to, is the competition between everybody.“From what I hear, everyone tries to one-up each other in a competitive, friendly way, not ‘I’m better than you and this person.’ Like I said, that breeds good competition. I think that’s why they’re so good here, too. … They’re great guys. Took me right in, trying to get to know them; they’re trying to get to know me. Hopefully it’ll be a really good match.”"
Considering Odorizzi has just 18 Triple-A starts (and a relief appearance) on his resume and the Rays still feature their renowned pitching depth, it seems most likely that Odorizzi is bound to return to Triple-A for most of 2013. But if there’s anything Odorizzi has shown so far in his professional career, it’s that he has always exceeded expectations at every level he’s gone to and forced his team to promote him. After making 20 starts at Low-A back in 2010 in his final season in the Brewers system before being involved in the Zack Greinke trae, Odorizzi made 15 starts at High-A, 19 at Double-A, and then 18 at Triple-A before cracking the major leagues. For those numbers to remain the same, Odorizzi has a tough road ahead of him with Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez, and Chris Archer in competition with him for the Rays’ final rotation spot behind David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Alex Cobb. But a scenario where Odorizzi starts in the major leagues is far from impossible if Odorizzi dominates in spring training. Niemann could be traded, Hernandez could pitch out of the bullpen, and Archer could either move to relief himself or get sent back to Triple-A to work on his control and changeup, opening up the Rays’ 5th starter job to Odorizzi. The competition for Odorizzi to make the Rays’ Opening Day rotation is going to be fierce- but if he exceeds expectations yet again, the Rays may just have to give him a chance.
Yesterday at RCG, we talked about whether it makes sense for the Rays to bring back Kyle Farnsworth and concluded that if the money works out and Farnsworth is willing to settle for more of a middle relief role than a setup one, we could very well see him returning to Tampa Bay for 2013. However, the chances of that happening may be slim after Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports sent out this tweet.
There is a pretty good chance that the Rays are one of those three teams, but you can’t imagine them getting in a bidding war for Farnsworth, and at this point it would seem like the only way Farnsworth will come back to the Rays would be if he turned down a more lucrative offer from another team. Good luck to Farnsworth no matter what happens, and Rays fans will always appreciate what he did for the Rays in 2011, improbably becoming a dominant closer for the first time in his career at age 35 to help lead the Rays to their unbelievable playoff run.
This second tweet from Rosenthal seems a little more confusing.
The Rays looking for late-inning relief help? What happened to Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, and even Jake McGee? The reality here is that the Rays are probably looking around for a veteran reliever with closer experience like they were doing when they signed Farnsworth in 2011 and Rodney in 2012. We hope that Rodney and Co. will be dominant once again at the end of games for the Rays, but it’s always important to have backup plans, and adding another dominant reliever to an already-impressive bullpen is far from a bad thing if the financials work out.
To close, Rosenthal’s Fox Sports colleague Jon Paul Morosi provided a very interesting insight about the one-year, 10.1125 million dollar contract that David Price and the Rays agreed to, avoiding arbitration: it’s not divided in nearly the way you would expect. Price received a 5 million dollar signing bouns and 4 million of his contract will be deferred until 2014, so Price’s base salary next year will actually be just 1.1125 million dollars. What does that accomplish? It saves $230,000 in taxes because he received the money while it was still 2012 and before the new “fiscal cliff” taxes for this year kicked in. And for the Rays, it gives them additional money to play with this offseason, and then there’s the possible benefit should the Rays trade Price over the next year (gulp): under the new collective bargaining agreement, the Rays would be able to saddle the deferred money on whichever team acquired Price and wind up paying just a little over 6 million dollars for one last year of the true ace of their staff. Rays fans would much rather focus on the latter two ramifications of the way the Rays divided Price’s contract, but overall it was a smart contract all-around and both sides ended up with a very good deal.