hangoverRecently, we have heard the Rays linked to Jim Thome and Johnny Damon. The common denominator in these rumors is Pat Burrell. Thome (who has since signed with the Twins) and Damon are DH-types at this point in their careers, and the Rays are only adding a DH if they are able to unload Burrell and his $9 million salary for the 2010 season.

So while we continue to hear about the Rays “interest” in these players, maybe the more telling message is that Andrew Friedman is still actively trying to trade Burrell.

During the winter meetings we heard endless chatter about a possible deal in sending Burrell to Chicago for Milton Bradley. The Rays appeared to be firm on their price and the trade never materialized.

Since then, whispers of teams interested in Burrell died down. But quiet is the way the Rays like to operate. And just because we don’t hear the rumors doesn’t mean the Rays aren’t still shopping.

One thing we can be certain of, is that the Rays are not going to just cut Burrell to make room for another veteran DH. The Rays are not a team that is just going to swallow $9 million as a sunk cost. While Damon may be worth $4-5 million, he is not likely to be worth $4-5 million more than Burrell. Releasing Burrell means the Rays would be paying $13-14 million for Damon’s production this season (Burrell’s $9m and Damon’s $4-5m).

The Rays may be interested in players like Damon and Thome, but that means little until Burrell is traded, something the Rays are clearly trying to do.

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16 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    Let me start by saying I know this is crazy and it would never happen.

    But someday I would love to see a player like Pat Burrell volunteer for a salary cut. Say, "Ladies and gentleman, there is no way my performance last year merited $7 million. I will therefore return half the salary due to me next year to the team. My family and I can live just fine on "only" $4 million. I hope the team uses the saved funds to improve our chance of competing for the World Championship."

    I know it's nuts. And who doesn't want to earn more money. But isn't there any level on which a guy like Burrell feels an ounce of shame to be the guy his team is eager to dump?

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    • John says:

      That'll happen about the same day management says to a high performing player at a low salary: "You know, we only paid you the minimum salary, but since you performed like a $10M dollar player, we're going to give you that extra $9.5M. We can still feed our families on the hundreds of millions of dollars we still have left over."

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  2. Gus says:

    The union would have a fastball planted in the earhole of the first player who tried such a tactic, but it is great to think about. Remember, that A-Rod's trade to Boston was nixed by the union because he was renouncing salary.

    Burrell is in the $1M a season range after this year if he can find a job. He needs to stash his money while he can. But this one signing has done more to mess up the ALCS championship defense than anything. Terrible in the clubhouse, terrible at the plate and making more than anybody but CC and Pena. When you are applauding the efforts of the front office, you can't forget this debacle and the $16M HR PB hit in Game 5 of the World Series that keeps on costing the Rays. They messed up here. Hit Show Part II.

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    • steve-o1285 says:

      You're gonna blame the front office for that? So you saw Burrell's bad season coming?

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      • Beth says:

        No one ever knows with complete certainty how a player will perform. But if the front office gets credit for the good deals (e.g. did they KNOW that Jason Bartlett would be a .340 hitter?) then they need to take some responsibility for the bad.

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      • Gus says:

        I don't think many people in Tampa Bay liked the Burrell signing at the time -- 33, no defense, NL to AL, bandbox to neutral stadium, runs the bases like his feet hurt, no defense, muscle-bound pictures make you think he had PED-inflated stats.

        For a frachise like this $8M a year is too-much for a guy like that.

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        • Buzhardt says:

          Listen, Pat's feet DO hurt. So does his wrist. His eyes, they're not so hot either. He is one year away from retirement. Good luck finding a trading partner for him, if the Rays are expecting someone to swallow his entire salary, or even most of it.

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  3. Don says:

    "The Rays are not a team that is just going to swallow....$9 mil ..."
    So let me ask you....looks like the Rays are stuck with him....
    Lets say the first two months (Apr./May) he is hitting .215/3hr/10rbis
    Now what are you (Rays) going to do???
    I know what I would do...but probably not the Rays (Maddon)!

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    • KillaTapes says:

      When I read Don's posts I always feel like I'm reading the "Sea" poem by Kerouac. But not in a good way.

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      • Beth says:

        Actually, that makes me feel better about Don. It's not that he is unaware of the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation, and logic. He knows that rules....but is bending them in a subversive way. Now I understand.

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      • Brixology says:

        **laughing** Skittles is the best.

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  4. Don says:

    Interesting.... three comments...no opinions...brain dead.. comes in many forms....opinions are saved for after-the-fact comments either agreeing or disagreeing AFTER something happens ...which makes the moron feel like he/she thought about it all along.......sound familiar???

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    • Gus says:

      From Keith Law in January 2009 (on this very blog):

      "Burrell is the type of player who does not age well — he has “old man’s skills,” meaning power and patience, but is a poor defender and is a 20 runner on the 20-80 scale. He faded very badly down the stretch last year, hitting .191/.295/.365 in August and September amid rumors that he was playing through a foot injury, although the finalization of this contract indicates that he checked out physically."

      Yes, people were on to this fraud from the get-go.

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      • Don says:

        Who said anything about Keith Law??
        I'm talking about the three idiot after-the-fact comments from above!

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  5. Alex says:

    The only way I see us realistically being being able to trade him would be to package him with a prospect and get very little in return. I suspect the Rays would rather just wait the year out and be done with him. Lots of money is going to be freed up next year unfortunately we have a lot of people to try and resign.

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