Rays: Tender Contracts to Arbitration Eligible Players

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: Tampa Bay Rays reliever Chase Whitley (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: Tampa Bay Rays reliever Chase Whitley (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The non-tender deadline has passed and the Tampa Bay Rays tendered nine arbitration eligible players, meaning those offered contracts will have the opportunity to work out a deal for next season.

The Tampa Bay Rays faced a couple of tough decisions leading up to the Friday’s non-tender deadline regarding their nine remaining arbitration eligible players, however they did offer contracts for the 2018 season to Brad Miller, Jesus Sucre, Adeiny Hechavarria, Dan Jennings, Alex Colome, Matt Duffy, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and Steven Souza Jr.

Additionally, the Rays decided not to tender a contract to pitcher Xavier Cedeno, making him a free agent and pitcher Chase Whitley was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves.

It was somewhat surprising that Cedeno was non-tendered, but after missing the majority of the 2017 season due to injuries and the emergence of pitchers from the minors, specifically left-handers the Rays decided to let him go. However, Senior VP Chaim Bloom said the Rays will stay in touch and would considering bringing him back.

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"In regards to Whitley, Bloom added, “This was a case where we didn’t see the lane of opportunity for him with some of the other guys we have here and some of the guys we’re trying to create opportunities for coming down the pike.”"

The Rays biggest decision involved Miller. With a projected $4.4 salary according to mlbtraderumors.com, would the Rays let him walk and head to free agency, try to trade him before the non-tender deadline or tender a contract and trade him later on during the off-season?

Well, they decided to take a gamble on Miller in hopes that he can rebound from not only an injury-plagued season, but also one that saw him hit a career low .201 with just nine home runs and 40 RBIs with a return to his 2016 season when he put up career numbers in home runs (30) and RBIs (80).

Rays Senior Vice President Chaim Bloom told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:

"“We know the extent of his physical ability, and we’ve seen what he can do and what he’s capable of at the plate,” senior vice president Chaim Bloom said. “That’s not something that we’re projecting on necessarily. It’s something that we’ve seen him do in the past and believe that he has the potential to do again. … We wouldn’t have tendered him (Friday) if we didn’t think that he had the ability to rebound.”"

Although Miller was tendered a contract, does not mean that he will stay with the Rays. There remains the possibility that he could still be traded – the thought of tendering him a contract was the Rays inability to trade him before the non-tender deadline.

If they non-tendered him, he would have become a free agent and the Rays would not have received anything for him. Therefore, the tender is a stopgap in hopes of a potential trade.

In regards to the other players tendered contracts, the Rays are still listening to offers on Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome.

Financially, not tendering a contract to Cedeno saved the Rays a projected $1.4 million, losing Whitley to Atlanta via waivers saved a projected $1.0 million and Thursday’s trade of Brad Boxberger to Arizona saved a projected $1.9 million.

Next: Rays: Moves That Could be Made this Off-season

Overall, the $4.3 million that these three could have earned was not much of a savings, but nonetheless it is off the estimated $82.5 million payroll per rosterresource.com. This is just the beginning of what could be a very interesting off-season of juggling the roster to accommodate a reduced payroll.