Since the we embarked on our Thanksgiving shenanigans, the Rays made several changes to the 40-man roster.
Dropped from the 40-man roster
- Chris Snelling (traded to Phillies)
- Jon Switzer (DFA’d)
- Brian Stokes (DFA’d)
Added to 40-man roster
- John Jaso, C
- Jason Pridie, OF
- Fernando Perez, OF
- James Houser, SP
The only real surprise of the group is James Houser. Certainly any team would take all necessary precautions to protect a big left hander that is a major league prospect. This is especially true when a left handed pitcher is a common selection in the rule 5 draft because it is easy to hide a young inexperienced pitcher in the bullpen. However, James Houser is not any left hander.
On August 17 of this past season, Houser tested positive for a performance enhancing drug and was suspended for 50 games. Houser missed the final 17 games of the regular season for the Montgomery Biscuits. As a result, he will be forced to sit out for the first 33 games of the 2008 season.
One could argue that Houser would have been more attractive in the Rule 5 Draft since he would not take a roster spot for the first month of the season. However, once the suspension was lifted, his new team would have to make a roster spot for a young pitcher that had been out of action for nearly 9 months and with no experience above AA.
In the end Rays management decided the risk of losing a young left handed starter was too great and decided to protect Houser on the 40-man roster at the risk of losing another player that may be more likely to be taken. At the top of that list are two of Houser’s Montgomery teammates, Nick DeBarr and Dale Thayer. DeBarr was a Rule 5 selection of the Red Sox in 2007, but was returned to the Rays at the end of Spring Training. Thayer, the Biscuits closer, holds the Southern League record for saves in a season. Both players fit the ideal Rule 5 selection…A mid-level pitching prospect that has yet to live up to their potential, that a team can take a flyer on and hope for the best. If the player works out, their new team has an extra arm in the bullpen and only had to give up the drafting fee of $50,000.
- With the changes that have been made to the 40-man roster, our 40-man roster and 25-man roster projections have been updated in the sidebar. One change we have not made yet is the 5th spot in the rotation. A very strong argument can be made for the team giving the spot to Jeff Niemann without any further time at AAA and moving Jason Hammel to the bullpen to be the long reliever and spot starter.
- A report came down that Carlos Pena turned down a 3 year/$30 million offer from the Rays. Pena’s response when asked was that the report was that the report was “a straight lie”. He also laughed when breaking the news to his wife, which suggests that Pena would not have turned down such an offer. In our 40-man roster projections, we have Pena listed with a 2008 salary of $5 million. This is assuming that Pena and the Rays settle on a 1-year deal to avoid arbitration. Our feeling is that the Rays would not offer more than $8 million per year on a multi-year deal. [tampabay.com]
- Rays of Light is up to #8 of their list of off-season ideas. This one is a no-brainer…”Sign Scott Kazmir to a longterm contract”. However, we disagree with the contention that the Rays should be tossing around numbers such as 6-years and more than $70 million. While $12-13 million per season might be the price for Kid K in free agency, there is no need to give him that money in his arbitration years, nor is there any reason to give him that type of money for his free agency years, three years before he reaches them. The best comparison could be Jeff Francis of the Rockies, another left hander, who signed an extension in 2007 (prior to his third season), that covered all three of his arbitration years and his first free agency season. His arbitration years were bought out at an average of $4.25 million and his first free agency year will cost the Rockies $7 million. Add a year of inflation plus consider the talent level of Kazmir and a comparable contract would fall in the range of a $6 million average for his arbitration years and $10 million for his first free agency season or a total of $28 million over 4 years. [Rays of Light]
- Another trade rumor that refuses to die: Delmon Young to the Twins for Matt Garza. For those that are not familiar, Garza was the Twinkies first round pick in 2005 (25th overall). He is a 24 year old, big (6-4, 205) righty that split time between AAA and Minneapolis in 2007 going 5-7 with a 3.69 ERA and a 67:32 strikeout to walk ratio in 83 innings. In the minors, he was consistently around 10 K’s per 9 and less than 2.5 walks per 9 innings. [TwinCities.com]
- Like every other team that needs an outfielder, the Rangers have inquired about Rocco Baldelli and his legs. [MLB]
- John Herbert has written a column critical of the Rays plan to invest $150 million in a new stadium along the St. Pete waterfront. His two biggest gripes are 1) The Rays are willing to invest $150 million in a stadium but will not invest in the product that will play in the stadium, and 2) he believes that there will not be any parking available in the new location and all fans attending the game will be subject to parking tickets from meter maids running around in modified golf carts. [Hernando Today]
- DRays Bay warns that JK Ryu’s performance with the Korean national team may cost him a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster. We are not sure how much weight the performance will have, but we have Ryu on the roster bubble, so it can’t help. [DRays Bay]