If the season started today, the Tampa Bay Rays 2014 payroll would be approximately $62.7 million.

This is based on raises already built into existing contracts, projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players (via MLBTradeRumors.com) and players in their first three seasons. At this point last year, the projected payroll was $61.4 million and the Rays started the 2013 season at $63.3 million.

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


Some notes on the projection…

  • Players in grey are players on the 40-man roster that are not projected to be on the opening day roster. We know the salaries that are in bold. The salaries not in bold are estimates but should at least be in the ballpark. However, for arbitration-eligible players, the margin of error increases as the estimate increases. For example, Jake McGee’s estimate will likely be more accurate than David Price’s estimate. That is because it is more difficult to find comparable arbitration cases from previous years for elite players.
  • Like the roster projection, this assumes that the Rays do not re-sign any of their free agents.
  • There are currently six open spots on the 40-man roster. This is the number of major leaguers the Rays can sign or trade for. If they want to add more than that, somebody will have to be removed from the roster.
  • Prior to the Rule 5 draft, the Rays will have to decide if they want to add any players that have been in the minor leagues for 4+ years to the 40-man roster. This would cover most players drafted prior to 2010 and players that were at least 19 when drafted in 2010. The 2009 and 2010 drafts were rather weak for the Rays and the only player that I see that we can make a strong case for is Jacob Thompson, a right-handed pitcher that posted a 4.18 ERA in 26 starts at double-A this season.
  • Players with a “0″ under options cannot be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. By my count, Brandon Guyer and Josh Lueke are out of minor league options. So they will have to be removed from the 40-man roster if they fail to make the opening day roster as projected.
  • If the Rays do want to free up some payroll, the best option is obviously David Price. However, the Rays can also trim the payroll significantly by trading Matt Joyce, Jeff Niemann, or Jeremy Hellickson, three players that may be expendable.

(1) 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.
(2) 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.
(3) 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 $500K in ’14. Minor leaguers on the 40-man for the first time make $81,500. We are not including signing bonuses or incentives.



  1. Dave L says:

    Ken Rosenthal said today that the national TV money from Fox TBS, ESPN etc will go from $25M per team to $52M starting in 2014. History says most teams will spend most if not all of it.

    I think if you project a 2014 player payroll of $82 to $85M the Dejesus signing seems to make more sense. And my suspicions were correct he signed overall for less than $6M per the 2 years and everyone got more stability..

    But everybody gets the money so it does nothing to help us sign Price, et al

  2. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    Guyer is an interesting piece of the puzzle.
    If your count is correct, and he is out of options it will be interesting to see if he makes the opening roster or if they take their chances with the waiver wire. DJ’s less than stellar ability to play CF would lead me to believe Guyer’s chances were better, but on the other hand, the DeJesus signing leads me to believe he may not be a good fit unless Joyce is sent on his way (which, for the record, seems like a bad idea to me- the kid has pop and a really nice swing and could probably be had for relatively cheap… his AB/HR were good enough to justify that statement; 22.9 (to compare, Longoria’s AB/HR were 19.2)).

  3. Greg says:

    Joyce’s salary is the only one that jumps out to me as an issue. I can’t see paying him $3.7M with DeJesus locked up. He’s poor defensively and no way does he get 400+ ABs again. Maybe we can package him with Price? Sean Rodriguez has turned into a pretty valuable utility player like Zobrist had been. BZob has settled into 2B with Myers in RF, so why not platoon Sean with DeJesus in LF? Brandon Guyer would be more valuable than Joyce since he’d be a right-handed OF that could spell Jennings and work in the rotation in LF as well. I guess we need to watch for Kiermaier to push Jennings as well. His defense is supposed to be out of this world good. He’s another left-handed batter though.

  4. Gus says:

    If you want to talk about rookie hazing — what the MLBPA has done to young players is criminal — I could take the bottom half of the rays 40 man and beat the top half most days, or come damn close, even though the bottom half get 1/10th of the payroll. As more revenue comes into the system, the extremes get even worse.

    Cork has no 1B on his roster, notably.

    • Beth says:

      The baseball collective bargaining agreement ensures that teams will always be paying many millions for the gimpy 35 year old on the DL. Many players are cost controlled during their prime and then try to make their money in the years thereafter.

      It’s a ridiculous system, but of course these clear market imperfections are the only reason a low budget team like the Rays can remain competitive. If they changed the pay structure they’d either need salary caps or more radical revenue sharing to maintain any semblance of competitive balance.

  5. TOM says:

    Sean Rodriquez makes to much money to keep around. Although he plays several positions, none exremely well. He cannot hit RHP and wasn’t even that good against lefties.’m sure there are utility players the Rays could get a lot cheaper. I would rather have Kelly Johnson, for the kind of money SRod makes.

    • Beth says:

      Really? $1.3 million for a guy who has played just about every position on the field is an overpay? As the major league minimum is $500K, I’m not sure what you mean about getting someone with his skill set “a lot” cheaper. At the very most, replacing him would save you less than $ 1million. In baseball world, that’s nothing.

  6. TOM says:

    I would try and sign D Young as DH. Never did care much for him but he can hit. I also hope they don’t resign fat ass Molina.

  7. phil says:

    The payroll is $62.7M trade Price’s 13.1M and release Niemann at $3M the payroll is down to $46.6M. If they want a $65M payroll they have $18.4M to spend on free agents…..release or trade Matt Joyce ($3.7M) and you have $22.1M to spend.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Except for the part where you have to pay for the players you traded Price for. At least one player the Rays get in return would have a fairly sizable salary, so the numbers you’re using aren’t nearly as lofty as you are projecting.

      • Dave L says:

        What in the Rays history would lead you to believe that we will get a player in return with a sizable salary?

        I would be shocked if we get even 1 player who even commanded Niemann’s salary.

        By my calculations and using Phils example we will have around $36M to play with. and after paying the 5 guys we get in return (with a combined 25 years of control) we will still have $30M+ to spend in 2014.

        • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

          So your implication is that is the Rays trade Price they’ll get only minimum salary prospects in return? If for every player the Rays trade they in-turn pay-out half of their former pay to the new additions your numbers still don’t add up…

          • Dave L says:

            Yes you inferred precisely my meaning thank you.

            When did ‘half’ ever happen in the last 5 years? Our 2012 outlay for the Sheilds/ Wade Davis crew didn’t even get to a million bucks compared to their $15M+. Its a fraction never close to half. Give me one example to back up your ‘half’ and i can give you 5 where it was a small fraction.

            Its Friedman 101. He’s as predictable as the weather on the moon.

          • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

            Why, thank you, as a teacher my inferencing skills are pretty sharp.

            When in the past has an ace with the potential and caliber of Price been traded by AF? Shields was desirable, but not on the same level as a high octane lefty like Price.

            I understand the way World B. Friedman operates, but to justify trading DP there would have to be at least one piece that is a proven entity, and along with that a heftier price tag than most of his past trades.

          • Dave L says:

            We shall see won’t we?

            That’s the nice thing about all this is that our predictions are either affirmed or dashed upon the rocks of reality.

            Phil and I contend that even if there is a piece(s) which are proven, they will all be under 26 with plenty of years of control. Thats AF 101– trade for cheap youth. The talent level changes but the cost doesnt.

            So our contention is the quality will be undoubtably better as you said but we think the initial cost will still be very low. As Gus noted virtually all ball players are paid peanuts the first contract.

  8. phil says:

    I agree Dave!

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