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

By Seth Carter
Charlie Morton (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Charlie Morton (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Gerrit Cole. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

The view is to create value whenever possible. Do not overpay, even a couple of million dollars could mean sacrificing a very good player. Saving money on a player doesn’t mean it’s going to be spent elsewhere, it means it’s there if we need it.  Fiscal responsibility is of paramount importance.

Here’s what Sternberg told the Times’ Marc Topkin, regarding the money freed up in the Pham trade:

"“But saving money we might have had on Pham and reallocating it, we’re not going to reallocate it just because it’s there."

However, Sternberg discussed anticipation that the Rays would still exceed the $62 million payroll from 2019.

"“But by the same token, we anticipate this year spending more money than we did last year. We anticipated that, we expect that. So now it’ll be more, but it’ll be just spent a different way. It won’t be spent on Tommy Pham obviously.”"

He went on to say the Rays could spend anywhere between $40 and $80 million if necessary. 

If you read all of his comments at the Winter Meetings, then some of them can sound very optimistic, some of them sound cheap, and some of them sound like double-speak.

In Stu’s defense, it’s a tough stance to take. On one hand, he is trying to explain the commitment to not wasting money or spending it just because it’s available.

On the other hand, he’s trying to explain that the Rays are looking to compete in 2020 and will spend if they find the right deal.

"Look, perfect example, if we needed a shortstop, (Didi) Gregorius, I guess, just signed for $14 million (with the Phillies). If he was $10 million, we’d sign Gregorius."

Stu is telling us that $14 million is not the right deal for the Rays. The extra four is not simply a part of doing business. Erik Neander and his staff can make that $4 million go a long way. If they brought in a player for that $4 million difference, that player would be the sixth-highest paid player on the Rays’ 2020 roster, at the moment. That’s why it is so important to adhere to their principals in every scenario. One mistake here or there can mean 10-15% of wasted payroll. 

Right now a handful of teams are debating a potential $25 million/year deal for Josh Donaldson and whoever ends up with the slugger will likely have to add a fourth year to the contract, even though they know it’s probably not a good idea.

The Rays refuse to invest in bad ideas. It works for them and they are steadfast in their valuations. It can be difficult to not fill to the brim with envy as you watch the Yankees pay whatever they must, to bring the top pitcher in. It can be infuriating to listen to the Braves’ fans root for their club to keep spending Liberty’s money to bring Donaldson back.

"“If there were guys available who fit us and would make us a much better team, but were a really good value, like Morton was last year. If we don’t sign Morton last year our payroll is high 40s. It doesn’t mean we’re going to go allocate the $15 million to somebody else."

Stu Sternberg effectively sums up the Rays’ talent acquisition philosophy with the quote above. We are willing to buy a good value to improve the team but we are not overpaying, even if it means a $40-something million payroll. The rest of the league can scoff all they want but we aren’t doing bad business. 

Let’s take a quick look at why Charlie Morton exemplifies the Rays’ way and how he gives us hope that the Rays could add another superstar to the mix in pursuit of a World Series in 2020.