During a radio interview last night Rays owner Stuart Sternberg revealed that the team’s payroll will likely decrease significantly after this season:
We did out-spend ourselves last year and completely out-spent ourselves this year, and we’ll feel the effects of that next year.
Adding about $10 million in the form of Rafael Soriano and Kelly Shoppach this offseason puts the Rays’ current payroll at around $72 million after spending approximately $70 million last year.
Asked what the Rays’ payroll will look like come 2011, Sternberg said: “It won’t be 70 and it won’t be 60.” Presumably that means somewhere in the $50 million range, which would basically be a return to the 2008 payroll of $51 million.
However, several of the team’s key players have gotten more expensive since then and in particular Carl Crawford will be a free agent after making $10 million this season. If the Rays are indeed dropping from $70 million to $50 million or so, re-signing Crawford (or fellow impending free agents Soriano and Carlos Pena) figures to be very difficult.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.