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The Tampa Bay Rays have an embarrassment of riches in their starting rotation.
While most teams struggle to find even four viable starters, the Rays are blessed with David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Jeff Niemann. Wade Davis would be good enough to start for most teams, but he's relegated to middle relief for the pitching-rich Rays.
Unfortunately, the Rays don't have the same depth of talent in their lineup. Other than Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce, they don't have much offensive firepower.
If their financial situation was better, they could just sign a few free agents to boost their offense. Alas, the Rays payroll has been stuck in the $42-72 million range over the past four seasons because of their ongoing stadium and revenue issues.
The Rays exercised their $10.25 million option on Shields already, but that doesn't preclude them from trading him for offensive support. However, they hold an affordable $12 million option on him for next season, making a trade less urgent.
Unlike Shields and Moore, Price and Hellickson didn't sign club-friendly contracts with the Rays.
Price is starting to get more expensive through arbitration. He made $4.35 million in his first season of arbitration last season, and MLB Trade Rumors estimates that he'll make $9.5 million next year. The Rays control him for three more seasons, but he's starting to become too expensive for their meager budget.
Hellickson is under team control this season, but he'll start to get more expensive through arbitration beginning in 2014. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Hellickson and Shields are drawing the most trade interest right now.
The Rays went through arbitration one time with Matt Garza before dealing him to the Cubs for prospects. If that history is any guide, Price is a strong candidate to be moved this winter, and Hellickson could be on the move next winter as the Rays attempt to reload.
It would be ideal for the Rays to be able to hold onto their surplus of pitching and supplement the offense through free agency, but they just don't appear to have the finances for that strategy.
The MLB General Manager Meetings began Wednesday, so many of these burning questions will start to come into focus soon. For now, the best we can do is lay out all of the pressing issues and make an educated guess as to how it will all shake out this winter.