Pitchers and catchers haven’t even reported for the 2010 season and the Rays are already on the offensive (or is it defensive) about Carl Crawford’s and Carlos Pena’s futures with the team as well as the 2011 payroll.
We extended last year, we’re over-extended heading into this year…We’ll see the effect of this in the future.
We did out-spend ourselves last year (at $63-million) and completely have out-spent ourselves this year. And unfortunately we’re going to feel the effect of that the next couple years for certain. … There’s no $60-million payroll next year either, let alone a $70-million payroll.
Translation: Sorry guys, we know you love Pena and Crawford, but we can’t afford either of them, much less both. Does that make you sad? Tough shit. Get over it.
Let’s take a look at the Rays payroll commitments for the 2011 season…
Notes on the projected roster…
- Players in their first three seasons make close to the major league minimum which in 2011 will be $400K plus a 2-year cost-of-living adjustment. Players in their second and third seasons often receive a nominal raise based on performance.
- Arbitration salaries are very rough estimates at this point.
- In addition to the 25 players on the big league roster, the Rays will pay approximately $1.0 million to 15 minor leaguers on the 40-man roster.
- We are assuming that the Rays will not re-sign any of their free agents. That means approximately $40.0 million in 2009 salaries will come off the books. Those players include Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Pat Burrell, Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Gabe Kapler and Randy Choate.
- Based on those expiring contracts and some obvious replacements from the minor leagues (e.g., Desmond Jennings), the Rays will still have several positions to fill including 1B, DH and 2-3* relief pitchers.
- In the best case scenario (payroll-wise), if those openings are filled by players that make near the league minimum, the opening day payroll projects to be an estimated $52.3 million.
- The Rays could save approximately $5.0 million if they choose to buy out Dan Wheeler and Willy Aybar, but replacing those players would cost at least $1.0 million. That would leave the opening day payroll near $48.3 million.
So let’s say we take Sternberg at his word and the 2011 payroll will be under $60 million. And let’s assume they don’t re-sign any of their free agents and they buy out Wheeler and Aybar. And let’s say the Rays can fill the bench spot and the three bullpen spots with near-league minimum players (not impossible). That leaves approximately $10 million to fill 1B and DH.
Re-signing Crawford for less than $10 million will not happen. And of course, re-signing Crawford doesn’t fill 1B or DH. Pena seems more plausible, but still unlikely. Even if the Rays can re-sign Pena at a discount ($8-9m), there would be almost nothing left to fill the DH spot. Quite simply, Crawford and Pena do not fit into the 2011 payroll.
Let’s face it. This is the reality of rooting for the Rays. Unless we can get all of our great players to sign Longorian contracts, there is going to come a point in their primes when the Rays can no longer afford them.
Then again, Sternberg also said the 2010 Rays would not have a $7 million closer. Sometimes, plans change.
*It is possible that Jeremy Hellickson is in the 2011 rotation and Jeff Niemann is bumped to the bullpen. If so, the Rays would only have two RP spots to fill.