Payroll to be at least $54 million and Andrew Friedman will have several tough decisions to make

It is an off-day in the Raysiverse, and with all the recent roster moves and contract extensions, we thought today would be a good day to look ahead to 2009. Roster projections are based only on players currently in the organization, lest we get fined for tampering from the league for talking about players in other organizations.

40-Man Roster Projection (notes can be found following the roster)

Notes on the 40-man roster projection

  • Ages are as of today and shaded players do not project to be on the opening day roster.
  • The biggest shake-up will come from that great draft class of 2004 as several of those players will have to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft. Players that have to be added to the roster include Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, Chris Mason, Eduardo Morlan, Ryan Royster and Mike Wlodarczyk. The only player in that group that might be left exposed is Royster.
  • The Rays have 8 players that will be arbitration eligible following this season. Salaries for those players are guestimations at this point and will be heavily influenced by how they perform this season.
  • The opening day payroll projects to be $54.4 million, but will certainly go up with free agent signings (right field) and any additional long-term contracts given to young players (Upton, Kazmir, Garza). Look for the 2009 opening day payroll to be $60-65 million which is well within the range of playoff-caliber teams.
  • This leaves 9 players in the current organization that will not be with the team in 2009. Three of these players are free agents and Al Reyes and Eric Hinske could both certainly be traded this season. Rocco Baldelli will almost certainly be back in the organization on an incentive-laiden minor league contract and thus not on the 40-man roster. Scott Dohmann, Joel Guzman, Nathan Haynes, Kurt Birkins and JK Ryu will be out of options and will either be traded or cut loose.

Now let’s take a look at what this means for the 25-man opening day roster (notes can be found following the roster)…

  • There are 3 big question marks, right field, short stop and the starting rotation.
  • We could see any of Jonny Gomes, Justin Ruggiano or Fernando Perez in right field. But most likely this is the one position that is likely to be filled from outside the organization.
  • Jason Bartlett will most likely start the year at shortstop, but look for Reid Brignac to get similar treatment in ’09 as Evan Longoria got this year.
  • The bench is completely up in the air. Ben Zobrist and Shawn Riggans might be locks.
  • The top three spots in the rotation are safe. We know how much the team loves Edwin Jackson, and Jeff Niemann will be out of options. If Niemann is not in the rotation in ’09 then we can write him off as ever being a significant contributor.
  • The bullpen is surprisingly set. Al Reyes will be gone and JP Howell will almost certainly be back. Andy Sonnanstine is in the bullpen if Jeff Niemann or Edwin Jackson is out. He is in the rotation if not with the final bullpen spot likely going to Scott Dohmann.


  1. Big Mike says:

    i was just thinking about this yesterday so nice timing. not sure why but i thought the roster was more set but it really seems to be in flux and amazed the payroll is so high already.

    the only issue i have is Jackson/Sonnanstine/Hammel

    i have a feeling that Jackson will be traded as he has the most value and is entering arbitration. Sonnanstine will be the 4th starter and Hammel will be gone one way or another with a free agent to be named later filling the final bullpen spot with either Dohmann or Glover out.

  2. Blake says:

    I think that estimation is pretty accurate. I don't know if it will matter too much who is in the back half of the rotation beginning next year. Most likely, whoever it is will either be traded or moved to the bullpen before next year's all star break. The likes of Wade Davis, David Price, and possibly Jake McGee make it up as the season progresses. I think Niemann is an eventual setup man or closer. I know it seems like a waste of a high draft pick...but when you think of getting any use out of a pitcher from Rice, its really fantastic. The guys out of there keep having arm trouble.

    I think by the end of the 09 season we will probably be looking at a rotation with Kaz, Shields, Garza, Price, and Davis.

    Once Reid is ready for the majors, do you think they will try to trade Bartlett or is he going to revert into a utility player??

  3. DirtbagFan says:

    As long as i don't see any sort of salary-dump maneuvers I'll be pleased with the product that ownership puts on the field in '09.
    I'm sure that they (ownership) will sleep better tonight knowing that...

  4. DirtbagFan says:

    How can Bartlett be a utility player?
    He can't even play his own position let alone any of the others ones(or hit a beachball with a ten foot bat for that mattter).

  5. Robert Rittner says:

    On another site, I wrote this about Sonnanstine and still think it makes sense:


    One game proves nothing, but I think it does illustrate the kind of pitcher Sonnanstine is and why I still think it makes more sense to keep him in a rotation, whether here or in Durham, until there is simply no room for him there. What I see in Sonnanstine are the following traits:

    1. He is durable.
    2. He is efficient.
    3. He has a large repertoire of pitches, but no one big “out” pitch.
    4. He can adapt between and within games.
    5. He is prone to the home run ball and when not precise is very hittable.

    For all those reasons, it seems to me he is more suited to start than relieve. There is no absolute rule that a reliever should not be efficient or have lots of pitches, but ordinarily we consider those to be more important traits for starters. And his weaknesses, gopheritis and hittability, probably would make him more erratic in the bullpen while they are less fatal for a starter, especially one who does not put men on via walks.

    We also tend to think of relievers as pitchers who have a special pitch and who basically comes in throwing his best stuff to get the outs, while starters are expected to do more thinking as the game progresses, figuring out what works best that day. Again that seems to be Andy’s special talent. Before yesterday’s game, there were stories about Sonnanstine reviewing tapes, working out his game plan and making adjustments. That is the style of starters more than relievers, although I am sure relievers come into a game with a plan of attack depending on the batter and situation."

    There is also a link at DRays Bay that argues that Sonnanstine can be a solid mid-rotation starter.

    I do agree he may fall victim to the numbers game if Price, Davis and McGee all develop as starters and join Kazmir, Shields and Garza in the rotation, but I don't think he will then go to the bullpen. Rather I think either he will be dealt or one or more of the big 6 will go in a deal for someone else.

    Incidentally, I think it is far to early to label Bartlett a failure. His major league record indicates he can contribute at the plate and on the bases and that he is a superior defender. He has certainly not demonstrated any of that so far, but why should 17 games he has played this year trump the 239 games he has played in before?

  6. Jake says:

    Mike Wlodarczyk?

    He shouldn't be added to any Rays 40-Man roster, based on the fact that he's no more than a middling prospect. I'd throw him in a trade, rather than see him on the Rays.

  7. The Professor says:

    Why Wlodarczyk? well because he is a 6-5 lefty that has a fastball in the low 90s and he will be 26 at the start of the 09 season. If he is not protected (and that is possible) somebody WILL take a flier on him in the Rule 5.

    It wasn't that long ago when people spoke of the "Big 3" with Davis, McGee and Wlodarczyk.

  8. Drew S says:

    def have to protect Wlodo. Power lefties are the most wanted item on the menu and the most sought after player in the Rule V

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why wouldnt Salas Be a lock or mentioned asa memeber of the bullpen. He pitched well last year and will be up sometime this yeay, at least at some point. and what about morlan, wont he havea shot at the bullpen as well? im gunna throw up if glover is on the roster in 2009.

  10. The Professor says:

    just listening to the comments from Maddon and Hickey this past off season, we never thought Salas was a lock even before his Visa issues. When they would talk about the improved bullpen they occasionally would say specific names and once or twice Glovers name was mentioned but Salas never was. so that suggested that in their minds Glover is superior to Salas (their opinion, not mine). and with the visa problems and Salas will still have an option left in 2009 i gave the edge to Glover...

    BUT, obviously bullpen is the most fluid part of the roster. chances are 2-3 of those names will be names nobody is thinking of right now.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wlodarczyk is a better prospect than Houser and they protected Houser last year.

  12. Jake says:

    "It wasn't that long ago when people spoke of the "Big 3" with Davis, McGee and Wlodarczyk."


    Wlodarczyk wasn't in the "Big 3", that was the implosion known as Matt Walker.

    I'm sorry, but with the pitching we've got in our system...W-Lord is going to end up as "filler", I again say that he should be a throw-in a trade or we're going to end up losing him in the Rule 5 draft either next year or the year after.

  13. The Professor says:

    you keep you idiotic "bzzzzz" to yourself.


    In 2006 Davis, McGee and WLODARCZYK were regularly referred to as the BIG THREE in the SW Michigan rotation. That is just one link. If you want I can post about 20 more.

  14. Jake says:

    I'll keep the "idiotic" buzzing to myself when you figure out that Mike is a prospect who has been too old for his league for most of his minor league career and isn't any different than James Houser...except for the fact that our little amphetamine pumper has better periphreals than Mike. Oh yeah, Houser is younger too and is at the same level. Looks like Mike is the odd-man-out, though looking past his ERAs...that's nothing new.

    Funny about the link, seeing as BA called Walker-Davis-McGee the "Big 3" a few years ago as well.

  15. The Professor says:

    the difference is a big one.

    I NEVER said that nobody referred to David-McGee-Walker as the "Big 3"

    I said that some people referred to Davis-McGee-Wlodarczyk as the "Big 3"

    You were the one that was wrong when you incorrectly told me I was wrong to make the statement about Wlodarczyk. When in fact my statement was true and I gave you evidence.

    And I never said it was justified or not. just that it happened. Which again, IT DID and you Bzzzzz'd me as if i was wrong.

    The fact is. He is a big lefty with a hard fastball in AA. That is EXACTLY the type of player that teams drool over in the Rule 5 (that and former #1 overall picks with 5-tools). If you dont think Wlodo is worth protecting, fine. That is an argument. But he will get plucked if he is not protected.

    oh yeah. and "isn't any different than James Houser"...The Rays protected Houser.

    I've said it before and I will say it again. We are not here to tell you what the Rays should do. Unlike a lot of people we are not so foolish to think that we know these prospects better than the Rays do. We are here to tell you what they WILL do or at least what evidence suggests they will do.

    All evidence suggests that the Rays will protect Wlodo

  16. Big Mike says:


    I love how you talk about prospects as if you have been scouting them since they were in diapers.

    i would be shocked if you have seen Wlodarczyk pitch EVER. and even if you did, I highly doubt you could tell the difference between a legit prospect and a player that won't make it.

    i love how Prof actually makes an argument and all you can throw out is that he is older than the other guys in his league.

    and by the way the age difference means little once a player graduates past low-A. unless a player is in his 30s it doesnt matter that he is a year older than most of the other players. Yes, it makes a difference in the short-season leagues and to a lesser extent low-A. but not in High-A and def not in AA or AAA.

    when it comes down to it, the numbers really dont matter. if a team thinks he has ANY potential at all, he will get plucked. all it costs is $50K and they could strike gold with a power-lefty.

    and i love how you KNOW that he has no potential. I bet you thought the same thing when Shields got demoted back to Bakersfield when he was 22 and older than most of the other guys.

    ps no need for the quotes. the buzzzer was idiotic

  17. Jake says:

    big mike, there's a difference than Shields being 22 in High A and Wlodo being 25(going on 26) in AA. I know pitchers have a later "peak" than hitters, but when a pitcher who has been step-by-step promoted through the organization out of college, rather than sped usually means that you're either a future reliever in the bigs or a journeyman prospect.

    Yes, I've seen Wlodo pitch before. So I know what he looks like, hell I've even talked to him in person.

    My argument professor, is that the Rays have never shown any indication that Wlodo is a future 40-Man candidate. Just speaking from talking to people within the organization, though.

  18. I applaud you for having the forum here to try and generate some meaningful discussion about topics that affect us all. Freedom of speech is a great thing. 🙂


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