Payroll to be at least $54 million and Andrew Friedman will have several tough decisions to make
It is an off-day in the Raysiverse, and with all the recent roster moves and contract extensions, we thought today would be a good day to look ahead to 2009. Roster projections are based only on players currently in the organization, lest we get fined for tampering from the league for talking about players in other organizations.
40-Man Roster Projection (notes can be found following the roster)…
- Ages are as of today and shaded players do not project to be on the opening day roster.
- The biggest shake-up will come from that great draft class of 2004 as several of those players will have to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft. Players that have to be added to the roster include Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, Chris Mason, Eduardo Morlan, Ryan Royster and Mike Wlodarczyk. The only player in that group that might be left exposed is Royster.
- The Rays have 8 players that will be arbitration eligible following this season. Salaries for those players are guestimations at this point and will be heavily influenced by how they perform this season.
- The opening day payroll projects to be $54.4 million, but will certainly go up with free agent signings (right field) and any additional long-term contracts given to young players (Upton, Kazmir, Garza). Look for the 2009 opening day payroll to be $60-65 million which is well within the range of playoff-caliber teams.
- This leaves 9 players in the current organization that will not be with the team in 2009. Three of these players are free agents and Al Reyes and Eric Hinske could both certainly be traded this season. Rocco Baldelli will almost certainly be back in the organization on an incentive-laiden minor league contract and thus not on the 40-man roster. Scott Dohmann, Joel Guzman, Nathan Haynes, Kurt Birkins and JK Ryu will be out of options and will either be traded or cut loose.
Now let’s take a look at what this means for the 25-man opening day roster (notes can be found following the roster)…
- There are 3 big question marks, right field, short stop and the starting rotation.
- We could see any of Jonny Gomes, Justin Ruggiano or Fernando Perez in right field. But most likely this is the one position that is likely to be filled from outside the organization.
- Jason Bartlett will most likely start the year at shortstop, but look for Reid Brignac to get similar treatment in ’09 as Evan Longoria got this year.
- The bench is completely up in the air. Ben Zobrist and Shawn Riggans might be locks.
- The top three spots in the rotation are safe. We know how much the team loves Edwin Jackson, and Jeff Niemann will be out of options. If Niemann is not in the rotation in ’09 then we can write him off as ever being a significant contributor.
- The bullpen is surprisingly set. Al Reyes will be gone and JP Howell will almost certainly be back. Andy Sonnanstine is in the bullpen if Jeff Niemann or Edwin Jackson is out. He is in the rotation if not with the final bullpen spot likely going to Scott Dohmann.