In the latest twist to the Julio Lugo saga, The Tampa Tribune is reporting that the agent for Lugo, is expecting to receive an offer from the Devil Rays front office as early as today.
After months of speculation that the free agent-to-be would be moved before the trading deadline, it now appears that the team will look to see what it would take to keep Lugo in the middle of their infield and at the top of the team’s lineup. Recent talks that have stalled with the Blue Jays and a lack of other obvious suitors, may have team management re-examining their priorities. It is probably still a long shot that Lugo will be in a D-Rays uniform beyond this season. Reports have Lugo seeking a 4-5 year contract worth $8 million per season. We have a hard time imagining that the team will offer anything beyond $6 million per season to a player already in his 30′s. It would also be unlikely that the team would be willing to commit to anything beyond 3 years. This is likely to be a major stumbling block to a deal being reached. Another factor that could be difficult to overcome is any demand by Lugo for a no-trade or limited no-trade clause. The team most likely would not agree to any sort of no-trade and thus limit their options down the road. Another possibility is that this rumored offer, may be a way to get the Blue Jays to up their ante for the one player that they have set their sights on. Without another team with any strong interest in Lugo, the Jays have been happy to sit and wait for the D-Rays to lower there demands. A report that the Rays may not trade the shortstop after all could rattle the Jays cages a little bit.
Despite this latest report, at this point, there is no way to gauge exactly where Julio Lugo will end up next week or next season. The options at this point, trade him, re-sign him, or keep him and lose him to free agency are all still possible options. However, until July 31st comes and goes, we are still leaning towards the idea that the Rays and the Jays will reach an agreement in the next few days.