Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Trade Talks Could Heat Up this Week

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 31: Tampa Bay Rays LF/DH Corey Dickerson (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 31: Tampa Bay Rays LF/DH Corey Dickerson (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

With Friday’s contract tender deadline for their arbitration eligible players, trade talks are expected to heat up for the Tampa Bay Rays.

With 12 arbitration eligible players, the Tampa Bay Rays have until Friday to decide which players will be tendered contracts for the 2018 season. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the 12 eligible players combined are projected to make more than $40 million based on mlbtraderumors.com projected arbitration salaries.

Of the Rays 12 arbitration eligible players, Topkin states that the Tampa Bay Rays could try to trade a few players before making an offer to them. The 12 arbitration eligible players are (projected salary in bold):  Adeiny Hechavarria ($5.0  million), Dan Jennings ($2.5), Brad Boxberger ($1.9), Corey Dickerson ($6.4), Brad Miller ($4.4), Xavier Cedeno ($1.4), Jake Odorizzi  ($6.5), Jesus Sucre ($1.3), Chase Whitley ($1.0), Alex Colome ($5.5), Steven Souza ($3.6) and Matt Duffy ($900 thousand).

Speculation on my part is that the Tampa Bay Rays will tender contracts to Boxberger, Cedeno, Jennings, Duffy, Sucre, Colome, Hechavarria and Souza Jr., however I have doubts regarding Miller, Dickerson, Jennings, Odorizzi and Whitley.

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I assume that the Rays will go all out in their attempts to trade Miller, Dickerson and Odorizzi, as their combined $17.3 projected salary will give them some flexibility in possibly keeping Colome and his huge raise (2017: $547,900).

The Rays and Minnesota will continue their talks involving Jake Odorizzi. If the Rays do tender a contract to Odorizzi, they will be off to arbitration where Odorizzi could win his case, as I doubt the Rays will come close to what he will be asking. Therefore, at this point in time I would expect a trade to be forthcoming.

Regarding Dickerson, he is projected to make over $3 million more than what he made in 2017 ($3.025 million) with his projection of $6.5 million, plus the fact that he is better suited as a DH and despite his outstanding season the Rays will make him available.

If a trade is made, the Rays could then hit the free agent market and pick up an outfielder/DH right-handed hitter that they need or acquire a replacement in his trade or in another or possibly go via the internal route.

Though Jennings and Whitley are affordable and are projected to make a combine $3.5 million, the Rays do have internal candidates that could and should replace them in the bullpen (Ryne Stanek, Jose Alvarado, and Chaz Roe among others), which comes down to a non-tendering of contracts for these two.

Should the trades pan out plus the non-tendering of contracts the Rays would cut a projected $20.8 million off their ending 2017 payroll of $80 million, which increased at the trade deadline from their opening salary of $ 70,064,700.

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According Baseball-Reference, the Rays projected salaries and contracts for 2018 is at $82.5 million. In September, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times asked Ray’s owner Stuart Sternberg if there would be a reduction in payroll for 2018.

"Sternberg’s reply: “Absolutely. … There’s no set number. But being we’re so far above what we’ve spent ever before and way outside of what we can spend and should spend, the first move is down.”"

I am no mathematician, but taking the projected 2018 salaries of $82.5 million and the projected $20.8 million (trades and non-tenders), that would bring the Rays probable opening day payroll down to $61.7 million.

Next: Rays Rumors: Odorizzi's Market Is Heating Up

The last time the Rays had an opening day payroll of $60 million or more was back in 2013 when they opened with a $61,928,975 payroll. That was also the last year the Rays were in the post-season.