The Rays are a notoriously frugal team by necessity. They began their 2019 campaign with $52 million allocated to their 25-man roster. With budget constraints, the Rays will most likely non-tender some arbitration-eligible players in 2020.
Being a Rays fan is an intriguing experience. On one hand, they can win 96 games while competing in the same division as two of the biggest spenders in the league (Red Sox and Yankees). On the other hand, we routinely have to say good-bye to good players, at prices that other teams would consider a value.
The Rays have already designated Matt Duffy for assignment and eliminated the potential $2.9 million he was projected to receive in 2020. With the Rays already having $33.5 million locked up between Charlie Morton ($15MM), Kevin Kiermaier ($10MM), Blake Snell ($7MM), and Brandon Lowe ($1.5MM), the Rays don’t seem to have a whole lot of space left.
In this article we will examine how the Rays will address the departure of Travis d’Arnaud and Mike Zunino’s arbitration case. Before we dive into Zunino’s worthiness, let’s recap how arbitration is handled.
Once a salary is determined in arbitration, the team has the right to either tender or non-tender a contract. If a contract is tendered, the contract is still not guaranteed. The team reserves the right to cut the player prior to opening day. The contract is only fully guaranteed if he is on the 25-man roster on opening day.
A tendered contract does not necessarily mean the player will make the opening day roster. With Zunino already registering as one of the highest-paid Rays last season, let’s take a look at whether or not GM, Erik Neander should keep him, or cut him loose.