Tampa Bay Rays (29 days until pitchers and catchers report)
The Rays came to an agreement with Dan Wheeler on a one year contract for $2.875 million, avoiding arbitration. The salary will give Wheeler the 5th highest salary on the Rays in 2008, behind only Carl Crawford ($5.25 million), Troy Percival ($4 million) and both Scott Kazmir and Carlos Pena whose salaries have yet to be settled, but will certainly be greater than $2.875 million. In 2007, only four players on the opening day roster had salaries greater than $1 million, including Crawford ($4 million), Casey Fossum ($2.2 million), Ty Wigginton ($1.3 million) and Jae Seo ($1.2 million)*.
Wheeler’s deal leaves the Rays with three arbitration-eligible players (Carlos Pena, Scott Kazmir and Jonny Gomes). The remaining arbitration-eligible cases must be resolved by Friday or the player’s 2008 salaries will be settled by an arbitrator.
With three salaries yet to be determined, the Tampa Bay Rays opening day payroll (40-man roster) now projects to be just under $41 million.
*Both Pena and Reyes had base salaries less than $1 million but earned incentives during the season that pushed their salary above $1 million.
RHP Dan Wheeler and Rays agree to 1-year contract. [Yahoo! Sports]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Rays of Light breaks down six things that must happen for the Rays to post their first winning season in 2008. The biggest point is the first and one that we believe too many people are ignoring when they speak of the Rays new and improved bullpen. That is: Troy Percival and Al Reyes are both old and have a history of injuries. To expect a full season out of both is expecting a lot. Maybe too much. [Rays of Light]
There’s no doubt that Al Reyes and Troy Percival can throw, but there’s also no doubt that at ages 37 and 38 respectively and each with a history of injury, they are much closer to their last pitch than their first.
- Baseball Prospectus lists Dioner Navarro as one of their 2008 “Breakout Candidates”. [Baseball Prospectus]
Navarro has been a completely different player since being traded to the Devil Rays in 2006. At the time of the deal, Navarro had a career OBP of .360. With Tampa Bay, his OBP is .292. That kind of drop-off at 22 and 23 is alarming, and deserves investigation. When you look deeper, you see that Navarro’s decline has been concentrated in his strikeout rate, up about 15 percent, with a concomitant drop in his walk rate… Navarro was one of the worst players in baseball in the first half of 2007, batting .177/.238/.254, with a 36/13 K/BB in 229 plate appearances. To the Rays’ credit, they didn’t bury him, allowing him to remain the regular catcher throughout the season. They were rewarded with a significant improvement in the second half: .285/.340/.475, with a better K/BB (31/17 in 209 PA) and the best power of his career…As a switch-hitting catcher with good defensive skills and the ability to post a .360 OBP, however, he’s a tremendous asset. Navarro, still just 24 years old, is in line to be an above-average player, a five-win guy, for the next three seasons.
- Inside Vandy is running a 32-athlete “tournament” to find Vanderbilt’s biggest star. Why do we care here at RI? Because not only is there a “David Price Bracket”, but Pedro Alvarez is the #1 seed in the David Price Bracket. Alvarez is a power-hitting third baseman that may very well be the Rays selection as the top pick in the draft this June. [Inside Vandy]