The Rays set a record-high payroll at nearly $77 million in 2014 and followed that up with a $76 million Opening Day payroll in ’15, but the club has consistently ranked at the bottom in payroll expenditure when compared to the 29 other teams. All-Star starter Chris Archer told MLB Network Radio that “in order for us to be successful, we’ve got to spend more money,” as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Archer also said that he feels that Rays executives talking about being at a “competitive disadvantage” contributes to a negative mindset with the players. “I get it,” he said. “We might not be capable of spending with the Yankees and Red Sox. But if we keep harping on it then it permeates the minds of the players. And we don’t want the players to think that we’re at any competitive disadvantage. We have a different advantage I believe, and I think it comes from the scouting department and the creativeness that we’ve been able to develop over the years.”
However, the Rays finished this past season having drawn the fewest fans, averaging just under 16,000 per game. Yet that was actually an increase from their 2015 average. Though the Rays were quite competitive from 2008-13, fans didn’t show up which is why owner Stuart Sternberg recently commissioned a viability study for a baseball stadium in Montreal.
The Rays enter the offseason with just over $25 million committed to three players, but they have 12 potential arbitration cases which will help the payroll soar towards the $60-70 million mark. Despite a lackluster free agent market, the Rays could make some upgrades if they were willing to spend and that would certainly make Archer happy.
Archer, 28, is coming off of a bit of a down year. He finished 9-19 with a 4.02 ERA and a 233/67 K/BB ratio in 201 1/3 innings.
For the first time in his career, Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal had a subpar season. The right-hander lost his role as the team’s closer during the year and finished with a 4.46 ERA and a 56/29 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings. In the previous two seasons, Rosenthal was one of the more dominant closers in the National League.
The Cardinals, who thrived with Seung-hwan Oh in the closer’s role in the latter half of the season, plan to stretch out Rosenthal as a starter for spring training, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. If Rosenthal thrives, he could open the season in the rotation rather than the bullpen. Even if he doesn’t make the rotation, he could serve in more of a long man/swingman role.
Rosenthal’s agent, Scott Boras, said that his client is “excited about this potential, and so is the club.”
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said, “It was something that he has had a desire to do. As we were looking at all the different moving pieces it doesn’t hurt to have an extra arm, and in the past we’ve felt like an extra arm would help.”
The Cardinals’ rotation is more than full, with Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, and Alex Reyes as well as Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia. But teams rarely have the luxury of ending the season with the same exact rotation with which they opened the season, so having options is always a good idea.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Pirates are considering moving Andrew McCutchen — the club’s long time center fielder — to right field. They would then move Starling Marte to center and Gregory Polanco to left.
McCutchen’s defense in center has deteriorated in recent years. Meanwhile, Marte earned his second career Rawlings Gold Glove Award on Tuesday. It also makes sense that the Pirates would move Polanco to left field to utilize his speed in the most spacious area of the ballpark. That, however, means that McCutchen’s relatively weak arm would be in right field, a spot where teams typically put their best outfield arm.
In other McCutchen-related news, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Pirates and Nationals discussed a trade involving the five-time All-Star prior to the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline. Rosenthal suggests the Pirates are still willing to trade McCutchen for the right offer.