Recently, 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.