It was an off-day yesterday, so let’s take a moment and take a very tentative look at the 2011 roster and payroll projection. Notes on the projection can be found after the table…

  • A legend for the table can be found below after the jump.
  • This projection is based only on players currently in the organization and assumes that no free agents will be re-signed. That list includes Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Pat Burrell, Gabe Kapler, Joaquin Benoit and Randy Choate.
  • Here is what the 25-man roster would look like based on this projection.
  • Players in white would be on the 25-man roster. Players in grey would be on the 40-man roster but in the minors.
  • Salaries for players eligible for arbitration are based on salaries for comparable players in recent years. Those numbers should be in the ballpark but could fluctuate up or down depending on how well those players perform in 2010.
  • Justin Ruggiano and John Jaso will be out of minor league options.
  • Dioner Navarro is the only player that would still be under team control that we project to be gone next season either by trade or by declining to offer arbitration.
  • Stuart Sternberg said the 2011 payroll will be under $60 million. As we can see the Rays are only committed to $48 million. So there is still some flexibility to possibly re-sign a player like Carlos Pena.
  • The Rays could save $2.5 million by declining the option on Dan Wheeler’s contract ($1M buyout) and replacing him with a league minimum player. They can also save a little if they buyout Willy Aybar’s option and take him to arbitration instead.
  • Another candidate to be moved would be Jason Bartlett. Replacing him at shortstop with Reid Brignac would save the Rays $4-5 million and would open a starting job for either Sean Rodriguez or Matt Joyce.
  • The big name left off the 25-man roster is Jeremy Hellickson. Somebody will need to be traded or moved to the bullpen if the Rays want Hellboy to start the season in the rotation.
  • The last three names on the list (Aneury Rodriguez, Matt Sweeney, Alex Cobb) are projected to be additions to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft. Anybody you think we overlooked?

1) Based only on players currently within the organization and will be updated when trades are consumated and free agents are signed.
(2) Once a player is added to the 40-man roster, the team can ‘option’ the player to the minors 3 times. A team cannot be charged with using more than one option in a given season even if a player is demoted to the minors several times that year. An option is not used if a player is added to the 40-man roster midseason unless he is sent back to the minors at some point. An option is only used if a player spends more than 20 days in the minors while on the 40-man roster. A player with more than 5 years experience can refuse a minor league assignment, so we list those players as having no options.
(3) Years remaining under control of franchise before free agency eligibility. A player can become a free agent after 6 years of Major League service time.
(4) First, second and third year players will have their salaries determined by the team, but will fall close to the major league minimum which is $400K in ‘10. Minor leaguers on the 40-man for the first time make $33,750 and second-year players (or players with at least 1 day of major league experience) make twice that amount. We are not including signing bonuses or incentives.
* Players with at least 3 years since their big league debut. These players must clear optional waivers in order to be demoted to the minors even if they have options remaining.



  1. Thadw says:

    Looks good Prof. I think Niemann's 2010 performance is the key to the Rays' success next year. Assuming reasonably good health continues thru 2010 for Rays, I gotta think the Rays brass:

    A) Look at Niemann as the most expendable member of the rotation,
    B) Believe Hell-Boy is probably already ready to come up and certainly will be ready to be a 5th starter next year,
    C) Know they will lose Crawford and replace with Jennings (if healthy, I suppose)
    D) Are prepared to lose Pena and Soriano
    E) Could use Johnson/Blalock as stop gap at 1st in 2011, if no other moves made

    So, if Niemann has another stellar year (14-15 wins, sub 4.00 ERA) and is under control for several more years, wouldn't he be the logical choice to trade for some help at 1B or closer? I gotta think they could get a few decent prospects back or maybe a decent every day 1B for Niemann with that kind of resume. Quality SP is a Rays strength and also a premium commodity in MLB.

  2. Joe D. says:

    Seems like the biggest question mark is the 'pen and 1B, I've got to imagine that if Blalock, gets called up and shows that he can still be the player he was like 2-3 years ago, I could see the Rays keeping him around for a couple of years, I see Dan Johnson as a more likely DH than Joyce.

    I guess it all depends on what the team makes this season, as to what they can (or are willing) to spend next year, but I've got to imagine that the Rays would rather be closer to $40MM than $50MM... I'm thinking that means Bartlett, and Sonny are out, and one of the current starters to make room for Hellickson...

  3. Mike says:

    I find this to be a bit of a waste. How can you expect them to not sign any free agents or re-sign any of the existing players. Let's enjoy this season first.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I do this every year. Besides, it was Stu that felt the need to announce 2 months ago that next year's payroll would be cut drastically. There was no need for him to make that declaration so early but he did. And so it was Stu that basically said they weren't going to re-sign any free agents, or at least most of them.

    • Thadw says:

      Mike, it makes total sense to do what Cork did. I would interpret it NOT as a complete projection of the opening day roster for 2011, but rather a snapshot of existing commitments for next year (with a few add'l assumptions). It's essentially where the Rays are STARTING from with next year's payroll. Then you can speculate from there what they MIGHT do or can AFFORD to do in free agency. But you have to start here to see what they are working with in financial commitments.

  4. Joe D. says:

    If we were talking football trying to look into a crystal ball for next year that'd be stupid, but in baseball where a team can literally 'control' a player from like 18-28, or control a major leaguer for 6+ years, not so absurd to look ahead...

    • Michael says:

      Not only that, but baseball's unique minor league system allows you to project potential replacements a year or more in advance. If an NFL or NBA team knows a star player will be leaving as a free agent after the season, they have to look at in-house replacements already on the roster or somehow try predict where they'll pick in the draft and what college players might be available at that spot. The Rays brass could see two years ago that they could have potential replacements ready for Bartlett, Crawford, and any SP after 2010 in Brignac, Jennings, and Hellickson. For the Rays more than any other franchise this is absolutely necessary.

      Obviously things could happen to derail those plans, but what the Prof laid out here gives us a pretty decent start in figuring out what the Rays front office might do ahead of time to prepare for 2011 and beyond. I for one greatly appreciate it and think it makes for some very interesting discussion beyond coming up with lists of excuses for why more people in the area aren't going to games.

  5. Brixology says:

    This list does remind me to ask: where is Leslie Anderson now? Extended spring training? Where will they put him. I vote for Charlotte, so that we can get a look at him.

  6. Don says:

    Only weathermen and sports writers get paid for making predictions that are wrong... more than they are right...and they get paid for it....???
    try that in business....

  7. ramedy says:

    Longoria's salary is between our back-up DH and our long reliever. That contract never fails to make me smile.

    I still say Bartlett is gone next year. I'm sure we can find a trade partner who will buy into that 2008 MVP award and cough up some goods.

    • Don says:

      Longo's contract was for big up front $ as a rookie baseball player...don't worry..he'll make more $ in his career than the rest of the team it!
      and 25 other ML teams will line up to pay Bartlett $5mil+++

  8. Indiana Rays Boy says:

    Don't forget they can plug in Jake McGee as a 6th or 7th inning reliever along with potential closer prospect Matt Gorgen. Matt Gorgen and Jake McGee can be a potential 8th/9th inning reliever down the road. If they want to develop a closer, that is a start. This Rays team will be a competitive 48 million dollar team because this team is so deep in the minor leagues; they have plenty of options they can use. Don't forget Perez/Ruggiano/Joyce/Jennings in the mix for OF; the Rays have 2 1st Round picks in the 2010 MLB draft. If they let Pena and Crawford walk, they will be Type A free agent and have draft picks for 2011. They need to upgrade on catcher, first base and OF depth. Here is the projected lineup for 2011 Rays:






  9. Alex says:

    Perez, Ruggiano and Joyce?.....We'd be lucky to get through 162 with any of them and get a stat line of .220/.320/.300. Assuming they keep Pena this is what I see with the best possible line up:

    Brignac-SS(maybe Bartlett)
    Jaso- C (yes Jaso. He walks like crazy and he doesn't strike out)
    Zobrist- RF
    Upton- CF
    Rodriguez- 2B (If Bartlett stays then Brignac goes here)
    Jenninngs-LF (Eventual lead off man)


    Howell- Set Up
    McGee/Balfour/Trade- Closer

    Wheeler is gone either through trade or cut
    Ruggiano will either get DFA or make the last spot
    They will probably trade Niemann or worst case they trade one of Shields/Garza

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I don't think many people are very excited about any of those guys, but considering where the payroll will be in 2011 I think Ruggiano or Perez could make for a decent 4th outfielder. And I still think Joyce could be a decent platoon right fielder. Think a younger Gabe Gross with above average defense.

      And certainly these are spots that the Rays will look to upgrade, but affordable outside options may not be much better.

      More than likely, the Rays are going to throw those guys against the wall next spring and hope one or two stick.

    • Indiana Rays Boy says:

      Ruggiano hasn't had a fair shoot due to guys like Kapler and Gross for the past couple of years. Perez would be a nice 4th OF and as far as Joyce goes, he did not look like Gabe Gross with his swing when he had an opportunity. Even though Joyce had little playing time last year, he had his moments when he up and down. Joyce is unknown until he is 100 percent healthy. If they don't pan out, they will find somebody (via FA or trade) in the short term. I hope Sean Rodriguez will eventually grow as a player with his potential but so far, he strikes out too much and tends to kill the ball. I would like to see Jaso compete for a starting job but remember this guy batted .262 last year in AAA(since you brought up Joyce AAA numbers).

      Here are the following players that will contribute with the organization down the road:

      OF Jennings, OF Rogers, SS T Beckham, C L Bailey, SS J Cedeno, OF T Gleasmann, P N Barnese, P D Downs, P M Moore, P Hellickson, 2B C Cipriano, P K Lobstein, P A Colome, P J McGee, P M Gorgen, 2B J Bortnick, OF Salem, C N Ashley, C Jefferies, P A Torres, 3B/1B Sweeney, and 1B M Sheridan.

  10. Alex says:

    In case I wasn't clear about my first statement: Joyce gets hurt brushing his teeth in the morning and he's shown me nothing in terms of being excited for his coming. His AAA stats certainly aren't great or even good for that matter. He hit .252 two years ago with 12 hr and .273 last year with 16hr. He got humiliated by lefties in the majors last year. So why the excitement for him? Ruggiano has never been able to hit in his stints and while Fernando is good for speed he still can't hit the ball out of the infield

    • Michael says:

      You want to trash Joyce for 'only' 12 HRs in 2008 but fail to mention that it was in only 242 ML at-bats. Throw in the other 13 HRs in AAA that year with a good walk rate and all of a sudden it looks like a pretty good player. No one's counting on Joyce to be the second coming of Barry Bonds, obviously, as we're doing pretty well without him, but it's also waaay too early to write him off as a total bust. The injuries are certainly unfortunate as he's cost himself what could have been an everyday job in the OF but those things can happen to anyone.

      While an OF like the one listed above of Upton, Jennings, Joyce, Ruggiano, and Perez is clearly lacking in experience, there's a lot of upside there and you can easily slide Zobrist into RF if needed with Brignac and Sean-Rod holding down the middle infield. Also, the league average OFs like Gabe Gross and Gabe Kapler seem to come pretty cheap and don't totally kill your chances if one or more of the youngsters flames out.

      • Alex says:

        I meant to post his AAA stats but I was looking at his MLB stats. He still strikes out way to much and he's never light it up in AAA and yet almost everyone here acts like he's going to be the second coming when he gets back.

  11. Mike says:

    I think Shields and JB are likely to get traded. We should be able to get a good haul for both of them and we have much cheaper options that will not be all that big of a downgrade in Briggy and Hellboy. Garza (or Price) gets to be the ace and everyone else moves up a spot to make room for the new best #5 starter in baseball.

    Bartlett has to go as he will be overpaid next year. His defense is declining and with the exception of last year he has never really been a great hitter. Brignac is clearly ready now to be an everyday player and next year there is no way he doesn't deserve an everyday role.

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