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.
In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.
This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.
Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.