If the season started today, the Tampa Bay Rays 2013 payroll would be approximately $61.4 million. This is based on raises already built into existing contracts, and  projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players and players in their first three seasons.

At this point last year, the projected payroll was $52.1 million and the Rays started the season at $64.2 million.  In 2010, the Rays had a payroll of $72.8 million, but Stuart Sternberg made it clear that they were stretching things that season. So expect the 2013 payroll to once again gall in the low $60s.

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.
  • This projection assumes that the Rays pick up the options on James Shields (yes), Fernando Rodney (yes), Jose Molina (probably), and Luke Scott (maybe), and do not re-sign any of their free agents (Carlos Pena, BJ Upton, Jeff Keppinger, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, JP Howell).
  • Salaries for players eligible for arbitration are VERY rough estimates at this point, but I am fairly confident that all are within $1 million at this point. The one exception is David Price. $7.5 million might be low. If he wins the Cy Young (as expected), that number could reach $10 million.
  • Tim Beckham must be added to the 40-man roster or be subjected to the Rule 5 Draft. Due to weak draft classes in 2008 and 2009, he is the only player we are projecting to be added. Is there somebody you think should be protected (e.g. Kyle Lobstein)?
  • This leaves five open spots on the 40-man roster. The Rays will likely add a first baseman and a reliever or two.
  • There are some problems with the projection. By my count, Reid Brignac, Alex Torres, Ben Francisco, and Chris Gimenez are out of minor league options. So they must either be on the opening day roster or placed on waivers. If any do make the team, that will open up additional spots for free agents or potential trade acquisitions.
  • If the Rays do want to free up some payroll, they can trade James Shields or choose not to offer arbitration to Ryan Roberts or Sean Rodriguez. They can also choose to not pick up Luke Scott’s option. If the Rays want Scott back, they may prefer him at a reduced rate. The problem is that his buyout is $1 million. So this would only benefit the Rays if they can re-sign him for less than $5 million, otherwise they aren’t saving money.
 (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 $480K in ’12. Minor leaguers on the 40-man make $78,250. 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. phil says:

    That is why you trade Shields for young bats (save $9M) non tender Scott $6M, Roberts $3M and Srod $1.1M for a savings of $19.1M. That reduces the payroll down to $40.6M.

    • Joey says:

      But why do you want to reduce the payroll that much? It's not like the Rays are going to go out and sign a $15 million player. You are making the team weaker without Shields. And while I'm not crazy about giving $6m to Scott, what's the alternative? He can hit if he can stay healthy. And god knows the the Rays need more hitters, not less.

      • phil says:

        They can sign Keppinger for one; another reliever (Peralta) and another Free agent bat and think what you will get for Shields! The rotaion would still be formidable:

        Price/Moore/Hellickson/Cobb/Neimann/Archer ...

      • Drew says:

        The point would be to get young, cost controlled, high-end offensive talent, which is something this team hasn't seen since longo came up five years ago. And the drop-off in the quality of the rotation would be easily tolerable with the 7 ML-ready starters the organization has.

  2. Geoff Peterson says:

    I'd much rather see Keppinger back than Scott. If Shields can be dealt for a Kendrys Morales and prospects or a Michael Morse and Ian Desmond it's worth the move. I also wouldn't mid seeing Gomes back to platoon at DH or LF.

  3. maggie says:

    Yes! The payroll does "gall" in the low 60's.

  4. phil says:

    Shields to texas for Mike Olt and a couple of prospects ..the rangers have a deep farm system!

  5. TOM says:

    I think the #1 priority is resigning Keppinger. I would rather have him than Scott, Pena, Molina & Rodriquez. If they let him get away I'm done with the Rays. I'm sick and tired of all the stupid moves they make. Oh by the way I think he could play 1st base if necessary but should be opening day 2nd baseman.

  6. Beth says:

    There's a lot of support for re-signing Keppinger. I have no problem with that sentiment, but you need to consider:
    1. What sort of offers do you think Keppinger will get as a free agent?
    2. What are the chances that he repeats his 2012 success in 2013?

    Are you assuming we are getting a .340 hitter for $3 million in 2013? That would certainly be good, but probably he'll be closer to a .280 hitter, and what if he wants more than $3 million? What if he wants multiple years?

  7. CC says:

    Why not bring up Leslie Anderson as a replacement for Scott? When Maddon was asked about the minor league move ups. He was never mentioned.

  8. Dave L says:

    I would think this analysis would definitely lean toward Shields being moved IF we can get something very good in return.

    The Scott non option would be a safe move. I dont see anyone else paying him 4 to 5 mil with his age and fragility the last 2 years.

    I agree with keeping Kepp, I think with major playing time he has figured out contact hitting. He along with a healthy Longo are the only Rays players who actually follow the pitch into the contact with his bat on a regular basis. the rest of the team just guesses usually.

    Its funny we have to as fans buy this low 60's salary cap because we must allow for our poor, poor small market owner to take his annual $20 mil in profit off the top.

    Thats the life of a 2013 Rays fan.....

  9. Thelovefang says:

    How about trading $4m Jeff Neimann for a bat and keeping big game James


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