From time to time we will update our Devil Rays Trade Value Index (TVI) and 2007 Roster and Payroll Projections that can be found in the side panel to the right. The TVI ranks ever player on the current 40-man roster and the top prospects in the organization. Our goal was to determine which players in the organization are the most valuable to the team. Ultimately, when looking at the rankings, the question should be, “If team A offered Player X, and they wanted one of two Devil Rays players, which one would the Front Office be less likely to part with?” For example, if the Florida Marlins offered the Devil Rays Dontrelle Willis…and they asked for either Scott Kazmir or Carl Crawford, which one would the front office be more willing to give up. In our rankings, the Rays would give the Marlins Crawford before they would give up Kazmir. At the other end of the spectrum are the free agents-to be (ie. Brian Meadows). Obviously these players do not have very much current value to the team. If the team decides to re-sign any of these players their value to the team would obviously increase.
The rankings consider numerous factors in addition to talent, such as potential, age, contract and depth of position in organization. This last factor comes into effect if one player in the minors is stuck behind another player with more ability. For example, Elijah Dukes loses some value because the team has Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford already firmly entrenched on the major league roster and Delmon Young is slated to be the right fielder of the future. Another factor is team needs. Pitchers may be ranked ahead of a more “talented” fielder because the team has a stronger need for pitching at the major league level. (Please see the original TVI post for further explanation).
A couple of notes on the Rankings…
- We acknowledge that there may be errors in the “Contract Status” and “Roster Status” columns and strongly encourage anybody to let us know so that we can have the most accurate information.
- We are confident that most players are at least in the general area of where they should be ranked. However, this listing is a work in progress and we are open to any ideas or suggestions you may have. Don’t like the position of a certain player? Let us know. Do you think Travis Lee is more valuable to the team? We will certainly listen to your argument, and then we will suggest you get professional help.
- Salaries with * next to them are the player’s ’06 salary. These players are not arbitration eligible yet and their ’07 salary should be comparable to their ’06 salary unless the team works out a long-term contract with that player. The only player we can see that happening with is Scott Kazmir. In fact we actually expect it. Kazmir’s agent has a track record of negotiating long-term contracts for young stars that go into the players arbitration years and first year(s) of free agency. This was the route taken with Travis Hafner and the same route taken by the Devil Rays with Crawford and Baldelli.
- Jeff Niemann’s solid return to the mound moves him firmly into the top 5. We still believe that Niemann could eventually reach #1 on this list, ahead of even Kid K.
- Dioner Navarro has been better than we expected. The team has stated that they wanted to be strong up the middle and the acquisition of Navarro was important to reach that goal. His bat and defense have actually surprised us and he is still very young. We now think he can be a very good catcher in this league for a long time.
- Elijah Dukes was one of the biggest drops, going from 11 to 18. Obviously the suspensions have hurt the talented outfielder, but he is also stuck behind Rocco, C. C. and Delmon and a future in the Rays outfield is questionable at best.
- The biggest fall was by Josh Hamilton. Josh was and continues to be the biggest question mark in these rankings, but the season-ending injury just makes his future even cloudier.
- Joel Guzman makes his TVI debut at #20. He has been shaky so far but with no clear cut first base prospects in the minors or on the big league roster, Guzman cracks the top 20.
- We take a stab at guessing the 2007 salary every member of the 2007 40-man roster. Interestingly, the projected payroll for 2007 is only $25 million. This is down considerably from the 2006 payroll of $43 million. And this includes $4 million for Scott Kazmir if he does sign a long-term contract. That number could potentially be less, but probably not more. This could be an interesting development for the team as the young players continue to develop. If we are reading this right and we like to think we are, the Rays may be setting themselves up to make a big free agent splash in 2008, when the team may only need one o
r two pieces to contend for a playoff spot.
- There are several players that are to be free agents at the end of the season, and if they are not traded, we don’t see any of them being re-signed by the team.
- There are 36 players on the current 40-man roster that we see returning to the team in ’07.
- We also project the 4 players most likely to be added to the 40-man roster. These are the top players that would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not protected on the 40-man roster. Last season Jason Pridie was left unprotected and drafted by the Minnesota Twins. They did not feel he was ready for a spot on their major league roster, so he was returned to the Devil Rays after spring training.
- Elijah Dukes and Juan Salas are near certainties to be added to the 40-man roster. The other two spots could potentially be filled by free agents or trades.
- Obviously any free agent signings and trades in the off-season will alter these projections.
A couple of notes on the 25-man roster projections…
- We are assuming an 11-man pitching staff. Obviously a 12-man staff would be one less fielder on the bench.
- In the bullpen, Shinji Mori, Dan Micelli and Edwin Jackson have to be on the active roster (Mori and Micelli are signed for ’07, and Jackson will be out of options in ’07). Tyler Walker will start the season on the DL. If Seth McClung can make the move to closer, that leaves two spots for Rudy Lugo, Chad Orvella and Juan Salas.
- Unfortunately Casey Fossum is signed for next season and is unlikely to be headed anywhere. On the flip side, he does offer a veteran presence in the rotation. On a good staff, he could be a solid contributor as a fifth starter, and will likely be traded to a contender before the deadline next season. In Tampa, he is over-matched as a front-of-the-rotation guy. Also, we think that J. P. Howell actually has a better shot at the ’07 rotation than Jae Seo. Therefore, if another pitcher steps up in Spring Training (Jason Hammel, Chris Seddon, etc.) Seo would be the odd-man out. Still, spots 2,3,4 are probably all up for grabs in Spring Training. The wild card in the rotation is Jeff Niemann. He is likely to start season in Durham. However, if he can show that his arm strength and endurance have returned, he will make the jump to the Devil Rays very quickly. He is a guy that was deemed major-league ready out of college. “Stuff” is not an issue with him. His arm injury was not a major injury and he has been over-powering in his return.
- The biggest question mark in the ’07 lineup is obviously first base. Ty Wiggington should be back and Kevin Witt, has an opportunity now and in Spring Training to win a spot. It would not surprise us to see a platoon situation until one or the other emerges with the other one being used as a spot starter. If that is the case look for Witt to be the everyday first baseman as Wiggy could be penalized due to his positional flexibility.
- We don’t see anybody on the current 40-man roster that would fit nicely into the final bench spot. This spot is most likely to be filled via free agency, with a middle infielder.