The Tampa Bay Rays have decided to exercise their 2013 options on pitchers James Shields and Fernando Rodney, as well as on catcher José Molina. The team declined the option on designated hitter Luke Scott.
Shields had a solid 2012 season with the Rays, completing his sixth straight year with over 200 innings pitched. His ability to keep the bullpen rested while providing quality starts is certainly part of what makes him so valuable to the team. He was ranked third in the American League in innings pitched (227.2), fourth in strikeouts (223) and 12th in ERA (3.52).
In the second half of the season, Shields seemed to turn it up, posting a 2.81 ERA and three complete games after the All-Star break.
There is speculation about whether the team can truly afford to keep Shields in the lineup along with David Price, considering their economic situation. If they can pull it off, it would make sense, since pitching and defense are how this team has been built, and that's honestly all the team can afford.
The fiscal constraints are what make Fernando Rodney’s accomplishments in 2012 so spectacular.
In Rodney’s first season with the Rays, he set a club-record and career-high 48 saves while posting a 0.60 ERA, breaking Dennis Eckersley’s major league record for a reliever. His consistency and dominance throughout the season helped the Rays stay in the hunt until the final series.
Rodney was recognized as the AL Comeback Player of the Year and Major League Baseball’s Delivery Man of the Year in 2012.
José Molina will be behind the plate sharing catching duties again for the Rays in 2013. His offense leaves much to be desired with a .223 average and career-high eight home runs and 32 RBI in 2012.
His defense, though, is what will bring him back for a second season with the Rays.
Molina had the sixth best stolen base percentage (.672) of all the catchers to play in 100 games. He successfully threw out 15 of 54 of attempted base stealers.
Luke Scott could still return to the Rays despite his option not being exercised. He missed 45 games on two trips to the disabled list in his first year with the team. He also had a terrible streak where the designated hitter had an 0-for-41 at-bat streak.
Scott told Bill Chastain from MLB.com that they aren’t ruling out his return and will keep in touch over the winter.
"As far as the news on me is concerned, I had my suspicions about what would happen," Scott said. "I know the business side of the game and everything. A good thing is I talked with [Rays executive vice president] Andrew [Friedman], [and] he was very positive. We had a good talk and we're still not ruling out the possibility of next year. We'll circle back around and see what might happen.
"I definitely want to come back. It was a great place for me, a great fit. Being close to home was awesome. We'll see what the good Lord has planned for next year for me."
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of www.baseball-reference.com