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.