Owner says Rays’ payroll “is clearly going to be lower”

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Not only have the Rays disappointed this season, going 70-76 after four consecutive 90-win seasons, owner Stu Sternberg plans to decrease the payroll for next season.

Sternberg told Bill Chastain of MLB.com that the 2015 payroll “is clearly going to be lower” because “this year was an enormous aberration.”

That “enormous aberration” this season meant spending $78 million, which ranks 26th among MLB teams and is at least $25 million lower than every other team in the AL East division.

Tampa Bay’s attendance has slipped about 1,000 fans per game, which is actually not bad considering how much worse the team has played this season. Of course, they ranked dead last among AL teams in attendance last season with only 18,646 fans per game, so there wasn’t a lot of room for slippage either way.

Given how well manager Joe Maddon and the front office have gotten the Rays to play on tiny payrolls for the past half-dozen seasons it’d be nice to see ownership invest a little extra money into the team even when it struggles, but realistically that’s probably wishful thinking.

Dodgers sign OF Jason Heyward to minor league deal

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Jason Heyward to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training.

The 33-year-old was released by the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason.

Heyward, who was injured at times last season, put up the worst offensive numbers of his career, batting .204 and with 10 RBIs and one home run in 137 plate appearances. However, he’s a valuable defender in the outfield.

The deal reunites Heyward with first baseman Freddie Freeman. They came up through the Atlanta Braves system and have remained friends ever since.

Heyward was a leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse, helping them win the 2016 World Series.