Last year we knew the Rays payroll was going to go down. And with the departure of several high-priced free agents, along with the trade of Matt Garza, the payroll went from $71.9 million in 2010 to $41.1 million this past season, a drop of more than 40 percent.

Stuart Sternberg has not made any public declarations about this year’s payroll, but his recent comments on attendance suggest that the team won’t be in a hurry to add too much money to the 2012 payroll. However, based on the Rays projected payroll for 2012, they may not have a choice.

If the season started today, the Tampa Bay Rays payroll would be approximately $52.1 million. That is an increase of 27 percent over the 2011 season. This is based on raises already built into existing contracts, and projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players and players in their first three seasons.

Here is the breakdown of the projected payroll. Notes on the table, and additional thoughts can be found below…

Notes on the projected 40-man roster and payroll…

  • Justin Ruggiano is the one player we are projecting to be removed from the 40-man roster and designated for assignment. There are a couple of other players that are also candidates (e.g. Dan Johnson, Elliot Johnson) should a roster spot be needed.
  • If the Rays want to save money, they can certainly start at the top of the list. James Shields and BJ Upton have already been rumored to be on the move. Those two, if replaced by minor leaguers, would save the Rays apprximately $14.5 million next year. The Rays could save another $7 million by trading David Price. But we think the Rays will hold on to Price for at least another year.
  • We are still awaiting verification, but based on our calculations, there are several key names that will be out of minor league options in 2012. This list includes John Jaso, Andy Sonnanstine, Elliot Johnson, and Jose Lobaton.
  • Assuming Justin Ruggiano is removed from the 40-man roster, that leaves five open spots on the 40-man roster. These could be filled by minor leagues being protected from the Rule 5 draft, free agents, or players acquired via trade.
(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 $414,500 in ’12. Minor leaguers on the 40-man for the first time make $35,000 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.


  1. Korfan says:

    shields is 7m ..

    • Cork Gaines says:

      incentives based on games started and innings pitched bumps his 2012 salary up to $7.5 million. And if he he finished in the top five in Cy Young voting, it jumps another $500 thousand. I am assuming he will finish in the top 5.

  2. Dew says:

    BJ has got to go. And I’m thinking I would prefer to keep Shields over Price considering they make about the same money. We could probably get more for Price also.

  3. Michael says:

    For all the turds who said “Stu cut payroll by X%, he should expect a decrease in attendance by X%!!”

    Are you willing to take the over on the attendance going up by 27% this coming season?

    I would love to take the under on that.

    • Gus says:

      Projections won’t match his final payroll, sadly. Say goodbye to Upton at that # (which is okay by me).

      Payroll cut by 50% last year and he lost far less attendance than that. Rays probably will increase attendance by the net % gain in payroll 2011 v. 2012.

  4. Phil says:

    never thought of trading Price over Shields (or vice versa) who will make more in 2013? that might make a differencein who should get traded now..

    • Ken says:

      Shields will make $9M in 2013 and $12M in 2014. Price will make through arbitration estimates $11M in 2013, $15M in 2014, and $20M in 2015

      • Beth says:

        But Shields’ numbers are definite (contract) whereas Price’s are contingent on performance (arbitration-determined), right? So in theory Price could have a poor year and a lower salary, or a fabulous year and a higher salary.

        • Cork Gaines says:

          yes and no. it would probably take more than one bad season. And even then, it would have to be a really bad year. In general salaries go up in arbitration, even with a bad year, as it takes into consideration more than just that one season. And also, maybe the biggest factor in arbitration is how much comparable players are making. So all Price has to do is show that he is just as good as player X and player X makes this amount.

          And let’s say Price does have a really crappy year or two. At that point, are you going to be happy with Price over Shields? So really, Price is a bit of a Wild Card. Price has the higher upside of the two. But if he does realize that potential, he will cost the Rays a lot more money. On the other hand, Shields is, as you said, a known cost. No mystery.

          • Beth says:

            Don’t get me wrong — I’m not HOPING he has a bad year. I had just thought that arbitration numbers were more closely linked to actual performance and therefore couldn’t be easily forecast several years ahead. But your explanation suggests that the fluctuations are mostly at the margins – a small variation in wins or ERA would not make a huge difference in salary.

          • Cork Gaines says:

            It might make a little difference on a year-to-year basis. And it could make a big difference in the final year. Ultimately, his salary is going to go up each year. It is just a matter of how much it goes up and how quickly his salary growth escalates. I think that $20 million figure for the final year listed above is a bit high. It would probably take a Cy Young award to get there. I said $17 million earlier today. And $14 or $15 million might be the low-end. So there is a big window there. But in 2013, that window is much smaller, even if he has a bad year.

  5. Tom says:


    How did you estimate the salaries for BJ and Price?

  6. Phil says:

    trade shields to the reds for Grandal, Alonso and Frazier; trade Upton for a pitcher that will be in AA in 2012 (a candidate to replace Price in 2014), a reliever and a young corner outfielder moving Desmond to cf.

    This reduces payroll to $37.5M then sign either Damon or kotchman and shoppach.

    Then sign some under the rader relievers to deepen the bullpen.


  7. Boxauthor says:

    Haven’t seen Don on here lately. Any chance he’s interviewing for the Red Sox managerial position?

    • Beth says:

      Actually, his absence reinforces one of my theories: that “Don” is really the made-up alter-ego of some other, very articulate poster, who just wanted to have fun messing with us. Whoever was doing this decided that it had gotten tiresome and stopped.

  8. RTL says:

    Should the Shoppach buyout be included?

  9. Mark says:

    A few notes. Financial costs to include should be the $0.3M Shoppach buy out, the Leslie Anderson $0.4m Minor League contract commitment.

    I think Sonnanstine and D. Johnson are going to be DFA’d and offered minor league deals. Agreed on Ruggiano being DFA’d also.

    I hope that they do add Colome, Vogt and Barnese to 40 man roster to avoid being taken in the Rule 5 draft.

  10. your boy says:

    I want the Rays to take a chance and sign Matt Murton. 2 straight huge years in Japan, hit over .300 in his MLB career against LHP. Can be a platoon DH guy, play LF and RF if necessary. Assuming it doesn’t cost very much, I’d love to see the Rays take a flyer on him.

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