Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Prepare for Arbitration Salary Pitch

By Althea Pashman
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) /
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Friday is the deadline for players tendered contract offers to exchange salary figures with their respective team. With the Tampa Bay Rays financial conditions being what they are, it could be interesting how it all plays out.

I would assume the Tampa Bay Rays have been spending the majority of the off-season doing their due diligence regarding potential trades, free agent signings, negotiating with their arbitration eligible players on a contract and preparing their salary exchange with those not signed.

While only one trade has happened, which sent Evan Longoria and his $13.5 million salary to San Francisco, the Rays have until Friday to exchange salary figures for 2018 with their nine players that were tendered contracts in December, unless a contract was agreed prior to this time.

As of today, the Rays have not made any announcement regarding contract agreements with any of their nine players. Additionally, the Rays have a strict policy that they will not negotiate with players past the deadline except for multi-year agreements.

According to MLBtraderumors.com, around 200 players are qualified for arbitration, which includes the nine tendered contract offers by the Rays to Adeiny Hechavarria ($5.0 million), Dan Jennings ($2,5 million), Corey Dickerson ($6.4 million), Brad Miller ($4.4 million), Jake Odorizzi ($6.5 million), Jesus Sucre ($1.3 million), Alex Colome ($5.5 million), Steven Souza Jr. ($3.6 million) and Matt Duffy ($900 thousand). (2018 salary projection-mlbtraderumors.com)

At this time last year, Odorizzi was the only Rays player that went to an arbitration hearing, and wound up winning his case. The Rays had submitted $3.2 million, Odorizzi filed at $4.1 million and thus he became just the second player since Stuart Sternberg became principle owner to win his case. Drew Smyly was the first, winning his case in 2016.

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Since the Rays need to reduce payroll, it will be very interesting to see what the players submit versus what the Rays are offering. I would assume that a couple of players could head to a hearing, most notably Odorizzi, Dickerson and possibly Miller.

With the exception of Odorizzi, the Rays came to agreements on one-year deals with Dickerson ($3.035 million) and Miller ($3.575 million) last year. The Rays need to consider if the players’ potential performance and potential salary equate and decide as to whether or not they risk giving the player what they asking or going through a hearing in front of an independent panel that will make the final decision.

While the Rays are open to dealing Odorizzi, Miller and Dickerson they could have a hard time in terms of the return value, especially with Odorizzi who remains under team control for two more seasons. However, rumors are that the Rays want a generous return for Odorizzi and I would speculate it is only because of the team control/potential affordable salary (though not for the Rays).

In my opinion the Rays offer will not come close to the projected $6.5 million, or what Odorizzi will ask for, but instead in the $5-5.5 million range which certainly puts him into a February hearing.

Not for nothing, but trading Dickerson will be difficult for the Rays as he is best suited as a designated hitter – however, if there is a team that is in dire need of a left-handed, power hitter who hit both lefties and righties equally as well in 2017 and is a defenseless fielder, than Dickerson is the man for a National League club.

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Assuming that Dickerson’s 2017 was not an aberration, the Rays are still likely to offer less than his projected $6.4 million despite his production. I am speculating the Rays will offer around $5 million, which is probably less than what Dickerson’s camp is asking.

However, the Rays may just have settle with whatever figure Dickerson asks or face the music, as the independent panel is likely to side with Dickerson based on last season.

I am still in disbelief that the Rays actually tendered Miller a contract; can you see the loyalty through the Rays Colored Glasses like the Rays front office does?

In all seriousness, does one season of being a 30-homer man hitting .243/.304/.482 (2016) relate anywhere to a .201/.327/.337 line with nine HRs one year later?

No, it does not nor is the projected salary increase of $825,000 thousand to the projected $4.4 million worthy after a year like Miller had in 2017. However, the Rays tendered him a contract with the hope of Miller returning to the player he was in 2016, but still they continue to shop the man without a set position and with no team showing any interest. Yes, he is a versatile player, on the other hand his glove says otherwise.

Maybe the Rays should contact the Mets about Miller… Jon Heyman of Fanragsports.com writes the Mets turned down a trade with the Indians involving Jason Kipnis, as the Mets did not see him as a good value.

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My take is the Rays will come in with a low-ball figure of $4 million, Miller on the other hand could play it smart and take the offer as I doubt he could win his arbitration case should it go that route.

As for Colome, Duffy, Hechavarria, Souza Jr. and Duffy the Rays will come to contract agreements with them prior to Friday’s salary exchange with little fanfare.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: What the Rays 2019 Roster Could Look Like

In the meantime, there is still plenty of the off-season left and I would presume that the Rays will continue to shop Odorizzi, Miller and Dickerson and listen long and hard on offers for Colome and Chris Archer.

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