Tampa Bay Rays (65 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Tomorrow (Dec. 12) is the non-tender deadline in baseball. Players with less than six years of experience must be offered contracts by tomorrow, or those players will automatically become free agents.

This is an important date for the Rays on two fronts. Rotoworld predicts, as we did in our 40-man roster projection, that the only player the Rays will non-tender is Grant Balfour. First of all, the Rays roster currently stands at 38, so there is no immediate need to open up spots for pending moves. Balfour, on the other hand, is arbitration eligible. He made $415,000 in 2007 and would likely expect a raise to the neighborhood $750,000. With the recent additions to the bullpen, Balfour is likely not to have a roster spot, he has little trade value and is out of options, so he cannot be sent to the minors.

The non-tender deadline is also an important date in which the Rays may be able to find players to fill roster spots that remain open. This is one reason why the Rays have yet to pull the trigger on a trade for a left-handed bat or a back-up catcher.

Of the players that Rotoworld predicts are likely to be non-tendered, includes catcher Miguel Olivo of the Marlins. Olivo hit .237-16-60, while making $2 million in 2007. He is arbitration eligible and on the free agent market he would likely cost the Rays between $2.5 million and $3.5 million in 2008. While he may not be the veteran presence behind the plate and on the bench that the Rays prefer, he would come at half the price of a player like Michael Barrett, has considerable major league experience and and the Rays would not have to surrender any prospects that would be required to trade for Barrett or another catcher.

A cheap left-handed bat off the non-tender heap? How about Ben Broussard from Seattle. He is a first baseman by trade, but did play a dozen games in right in 2007. He hit .270-7-29 in 99 games last season while making $3.55 million, but has shown in the past to have 20-25 home run power. His $4 million price tag through arbitration (his likely going price on the free agent market) may be a little steep for the Rays, but again, this is a proven major league commodity that would come to the Rays without having to surrender any pieces such as Edwin Jackson.

Non-tenders and trade talk [Rotoworld]

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Charlie Montoyo, manager of the Durham Bulls, and his wife, recently gave birth to their second child, who is suffering from life-threatening medical complications. The Montgomery Biscuits franchise (for whom Montoyo formerly managed) has set up a fund to raise money to help cover the medical expenses of the family. If you would like to help out, please click on the link and scroll to the bottom of the page. Our hearts go out to the Montoyo family. [The Alexander Montoyo Fund]
  • Marc Lancaster takes a look at the Rays 2008 right fielders and examines the questions that surround Rocco Baldelli, Jonny Gomes and the left-handed bat that has yet to be acquired. Quotes from Joe Maddon do not resonate with a lot of confidence in those two players. [TBO]

“Rocco’s the issue; we’re still not exactly sure what he’s going to be able to do yet,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said last week. “Once we’re able to answer that question, we can be a little bit more specific, I think. Jon Gomes, I still have a lot of faith in him – I think, specifically, Jon against left-handed pitching does a nice job.”

  • Baird Helgeson wrote 1,000 words (we had one of the interns count them) about what will happen to the home run balls that are hit into the bay over the right field fence at the proposed stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. Seriously. 1,000 words about 10-15 balls and their impact on the environment. 1,000 words about how people at the St. Pete Sailing Center are worried about the 1 in 10 Billion chance that one of these 10-15 balls each season will hit them in the noggin’. I feel dumber for having read Mr. Helgeson’s piece. [TBO]
  • Joe Maddon helped cook, and will assist in serving meals to local area shelters this week as part of “Thanks-mas”. [TBO]
  • David Chalk, who covers the Devil Rays over at Bugs & Cranks, has been traded along with five others in a blogger blockbuster, in which B&C received Bill Simmons. Clearly, Bugs & Cranks is going for it this year, as Simmons is clearly past his prime, and doesn’t have much left in the tank. If B&C doesn’t win this year or next, they will regret this move for years to come. [Bugs & Cranks]
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8 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am confused. If these players are non-tendered they become free agents, correct? So what they would make in arb means nothing in regard to us. We would only have to outbid what others are willing to pay for them.

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  2. The Professor says:

    you are absolutely correct. that was poorly worded on my part. i just meant to imply that the players (in the arbitration portion of their careers) would seek on the free agent market what they would have made in arbitration. it was pure speculation on my part what it would cost the Rays.

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  3. Robert Rittner says:

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2007/08/2008-non-tender.html

    This is one guess, from mlbtraderumors.com, of who will be non-tendered. Not inspiring, but there are quite a few players who have had decent to excellent years within the past 2-4 seasons, sometimes even a solid career until last year. Look at Calero, Wise and Donnelly for example. And others have done something useful in their recent careers: Crede, Ensberg, Felipe Lopez, Reed Johnson, Monroe. I don't suggest any are particularly tempting, but it's probably worthwhile to kick a few tires.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    an interesting name on that list is Scott Podsednik.

    In fact, i am fairly certain that Podsednik is a free agent having already been DFA'd

    Podsednik would give the Rays a legit top-of-the-order guy (even though his career OBP of .340 is a little lite), bats left-handed and can play right field.

    He is an injury risk, but with Rocco and Gomes also available, that shouldnt be too much concern. The Rays dont need 150 games from Pods. 100 games leading off would be a good deal.

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  5. Jason Lyman-Hazleton, PA says:

    I would take a look at Lopez, he is so Hot and cold, but just 2 seasonago he hit 23 Homers and stole 20 bases and knows the strike zone pretty well, patient hitter...
    I guarantee you he is a better roster spot then Zobrist in our utility infielder role...

    Calero and Donnelly alson intrigue me, both were near unhittlable leass than 3 years ago... So possible gems...

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  6. Robert Rittner says:

    I like the idea of checking out Donnelly and Calero, but think Posednik is a waste. To me he is an example of a name who lures teams into thinking that because he is well-known he can contribute. A lead-off hitter who is light on OBP is not an asset; he is a negative, and Posednik is just that, a lead-off hitter who does not get on base much and who gets thrown out too much to be a plus as a base stealer. He is also reputed to be a lousy fielder.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Encina says that Broussard is a possibility, but that "Miguel Olivo, who is expected to be nontendered by the Marlins but at age 29 would not fit into Tampa Bay's plans."

    "age 29"?? As a catcher doesnt that mean he is just now entering his prime? Does 29 make him too old or too young? I am confused?

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  8. Robert Rittner says:

    Apparently the earliest Donnelly will be able to pitch is August which makes him more problematic. I suppose the Rays might hope they could get the same sort of bounce back they got from Reyes.

    I don't get the Olivo comment either. They may not like his OBP but frame their rejection differently. I don't see how his age is a factor, unless they are committed to Navarro and are not interested in bringing someone in who expects to start regularly. Damian Miller might fit in as he knows he is now a backup, but Olivo might expect to contend for regular time.

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