'Money won't be an object' for Rays … maybe

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Earlier Tuesday there was a report that the Tampa Bay Rays might be in on the chase for Cliff Lee. Later on, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg (pictured) was talking big about his budget and how even though it is “beyond stretched,” he was willing to open the purse strings. From Marc Topkin:

Asked if the Rays could make a “significant” addition, Sternberg replied: “By any means necessary. We’ll do whatever — money won’t be an object. Players are always an object for us. And the money will be an impediment, but we’ll figure it out if it makes all the sense in the world for this team.”

“Any means necessary!” How exciting for Rays fans. Well wait a minute. Hold on. What was that thing he said about an “impediment?”

Clarifying further on the money quote, Sternberg said, “it’s an impediment, it’s certainly a large impediment. And (Andrew) reminds me of what it means for the future because basically what it is is you’re borrowing from the future on your chances this year and possibly recouping some of it. But that’s not a business plan to say we’re going to play five- and seven-game series right through the end of the World Series, it’s not something you can count on.”

Oh.

So what does it all mean? Are the Rays willing to spend money or not? Will they deal prospects for a player like Lee? Perhaps. After all, a half-season of Lee would only cost the Rays about $4 million, and then they can let him walk as a Type A free agent after the season and net a pair of draft picks. That could make some sense.

But the Rays aren’t going to go wild chasing pricey players with long-term contracts. In fact, they might not do anything at all. Remember, they were saying these sorts of things last year as well.

The words “by any means necessary” just carry a lot more credibility coming out of the mouth of something like, say, Brian Cashman.

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Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.