Stu Colored Glasses: Kris Bryant Rays’ next Charlie Morton?

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Rays

Charlie Morton (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays’ owner, Stu Sternberg recently spoke about their spending philosophy. We’ll break that down and pinpoint one player that we believe could be the Rays’ next Charlie Morton.

Understanding the Rays’ Way

Like many people in the market, I’m a transplanted Tampa Bay Rays fan. I’m not from the Tampa area and my heart belongs to another team. However, I love baseball. My first year here wrapped me up in the excitement of the scrappy Rays and their David and Goliath story with…pretty much everyone.

I’ll admit, it can be difficult for a fan of a traditional team to follow the Rays. From afar they are just a “small market” team. They are restricted by a tight budget and low revenue yet still put forth a pretty decent team most of the time.

If your team is in a pennant race you want them to make a sexy deadline trade. The Braves acquired All-Star closer, Shane Greene from the Tigers, former All-Star closer, Mark Melancon, and Rangers’ closer (at the time) Chris Martin.

Heck, they gave Dallas Keuchel $13 million mid-way through the season to make 19 starts for them. That’s $2 million less than Charlie Morton’s $15 million per year.

The Tampa Bay Rays made a couple of big moves too. They brought in a struggling Jesus Aguilar, a struggling Trevor Richards, Nick Anderson, and Eric Sogard.

No offense to them, but none of these guys are sexy. I mean as far as being a “sexy move.” This is in no way a commentary on their physical app… You know what? Nevermind.

These are low-risk, low-priced, high-upside and effective players. If you dig a little deeper, these were all really smart plays. Sogard was worth a 2.6 rWAR in only 110 games. In his first Major League season, Anderson went from a very good player with the Marlins to spectacular with the Rays. He has “elite-reliever” written all over him.

Trevor Richards was pegged to be a breakout candidate for the Marlins heading into last season and the Rays were able to scoop his upside up in the trade. Of course, Aguilar was just a few months removed from a 35 homer, 108 RBI, All-Star campaign.

It’s a different world in Tampa. The crazy thing (to a newbie) is that the 2019 Nielsen DMA ratings are out and Tampa Bay came in as the 11th largest designated market area in the country, just behind Atlanta and Boston.

The Rays have an attendance issue, but their TV ratings spiked in 2019, showing the people were interested in their push for the postseason. Alas, attendance and gross revenue are still very low figures. In 2018, the Rays grossed around $228 million.  

The Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg and General Manager, Erik Neander have a philosophy. They refuse to overpay. It is so much more than simply being cheap. It can be frustrating for fans to watch free agents flock to New York and Boston with their pockets filled with riches that rival Bilbo’s, but this is the methodology that allows the financially-restricted Rays to strike when they find the right deal.

Sternburg was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times speaking extensively on the state of the Rays’ budget, players, and philosophy. In the next slide, we will break down some of Sternberg’s comments and then apply them to a potential trade candidate that I believe fits the Rays’ criteria.

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