The Tampa Bay Rays’ manager, coaches and players get to go home and rest up before returning in 2014. It’s not the same for Andrew Friedman and his staff. They must decide who stays and who leaves as they form the 2014 Rays. One of their biggest challenges is how to deal with free agents. The Rays have nine of them. How will they handle each player? Here are some thoughts.
Jesse Crain (2013 salary: $4.5 million): Picked up in July despite an arm injury, he never was able to pitch in 2013 and we don’t know about 2014. The Rays can’t risk money on this type of player. PASS.
Roberto Hernandez ($3.25 million): Bad mistake from the get-go. Did not contribute much of anything to the 2013 Rays with 6 wins in 24 starts. PASS
James Loney ($2.0 million); What a find! Clutch hitter, great fielder and super in the clubhouse. A three year deal at $20.0 million sounds right. Sign him before some crazy GM drives up the price. RE-SIGN.
Jose Molina ($1.8 million): He’s old, fat and can’t hit but pitchers love him behind the plate. Sign him for $1.0 million and get a third option behind the plate. RE-SIGN
Fernando Rodney ($2.0 million): It was a nice ride but it’s over. In 2013, he looked too much like the pitcher the Angels dumped three years ago. He will look for more money and we are better off to let Andrew do his magic with another reliever. PASS
Luke Scott ($2.75 million): I’m really tired of his act and his trips to the DL. You can’t have your primary DH give you only 250 AB and 40 RBI. PASS
Jamey Wright ($900K): 2013 was quite a year for a soon-to-be 39 year old. He’ll probably want just a slight uptick in salary in 2014. Not a high-leverage reliever, but should e a solid middle relief option again for the Rays next season. RE-SIGN
Delmon Young ($750K): I have a good feeling about the 2014 Delmon Young. I think Andrew and Joe do too. Sign him for $2.0 million and a ton of incentives and see what he can do. RE-SIGN
The Rays 2013 salary base for these nine players was about $17.0 million. The 2014 re-signing value for my four favorite players should be about $11.0 million. That gives the Rays $6.0 million to play with. Sounds like a good deal to me. If the Rays can find the right combination of bringing players back and doing their usual free agent magic, 2014 should be a lot of fun.