Jayson Stark weighs in on Carl Crawford’s pending team option for 2010.

…the Rays are a team that looks at everything — from payroll to roster composition — in three-year chunks, not one-year increments. So one baseball man familiar with their thinking says there is just about “zero chance” that they would decline Crawford’s option and make him a free agent. If that puts them over budget, they would simply compensate by adjusting their payroll down the road by infusing more young players…So if the Rays win, or at least contend, they could find a way to bring back all their key players What’s more likely, though, is that they would pick up Crawford’s option and then listen more seriously to offseason offers than they ever have in the past — because keeping him as a free agent presents a whole different financial challenge.

The problem with the first scenario is that Stuart Sternberg has already indicated that the Rays have already borrowed from future payrolls just to reach the $63 million this season. We can’t imagine they would be willing to do that again next year.

That leaves the second scenario as the more likely of the two…The Rays will entertain offers for Crawford.

Stark then offers his two cents on the brewing bullpen logjam with the imminent promotion of Jason Isringhausen.

Jason Isringhausen’s rehab option is up May 19. And the Rays would like to add him to their late-inning mix if all goes well over the next week or so. But they have limited roster flexibility, so mark down Tampa Bay as potentially the first club to make relief pitching available. Could a Dan Wheeler or J.P. Howell be a candidate to get moved? Not likely, but there are clubs tracking both of them…Meanwhile, [David] Price is still a Triple-A work in progress, so his ascension to the Trop doesn’t appear imminent. But when Price does arrive, whenever that is, other clubs believe the Rays could look to deal either Andy Sonnanstine or Jeff Niemann — although it’s still possible they could move the odd starter out to bullpen land.

No way JP Howell is moved as he is Joe Maddon’s ideal and Dan Wheeler is a Jim Hickey favorite. So who would the Rays move? The obvious choices are Lance Cormier and Joe Nelson. Are we being too strict on Wheeler? Might somebody find some value, any value in Troy Percival? Not likely.

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