Predicting Decisions Tampa Bay Rays Will Make on Pending Free Agents
Eight of the 25 players on the Tampa Bay Rays' current active roster will enter free agency this offseason.
If you're a Rays fan, losing players to free agency is nothing new. Unfortunately, there are a handful of key Tampa Bay players whose contracts are expiring this year.
General manager Andrew Friedman has his work cut out for him once again this offseason, facing some tough decisions to make with the Rays' soon-to-be free agents.
While we still haven't reached the All-Star break, I'll try my best to predict who the Rays will re-sign and whom they will part ways with over the offseason.
With the emergence of Tampa Bay's young talented arms—Chris Archer, Alex Torres, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome—Roberto Hernandez's job is possibly already in jeopardy.
The former "Fausto Carmona" has yet to find his groove, posting a 4-7 record and 5.02 ERA through 13 starts.
Regardless of how Hernandez pitches for the rest of the season, I don't see the Rays re-signing him to a multi-million dollar contract when they're still deep in the starting pitching department.
Even if David Price is traded before the 2014 season, which is pretty likely, they still have more then five guys who can fill in the rotation without Hernandez. The only way I see him returning to the Rays is if he's signed to bolster the bullpen.
The Rays re-signed Luke Scott last winter to a one-year contract for $2.75 million to be their designated hitter. Scott has had a decent—and streaky—2013 thus far, posting a 103 in Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC-plus) in 151 plate appearances.
He's a nice bat to have in the lineup with the power he provides, but the odds of him returning to Tampa Bay aren't great with Wil Myers being called up.
It's hard to say whether or not the Rays re-sign Scott. I, personally, can't predict this one.
He will be an affordable option, and the Rays might want him on the roster if they lose Kelly Johnson. If both Johnson and Scott don't return, the Rays won't have a DH, so don't count out a 2014 return for the veteran slugger.
Fernando Rodney will be another difficult decision for general manager Andrew Friedman this offseason. The 36-year-old has been shaky as the Rays' closer this year after a historic 2012 campaign.
At this point in the season, it's too early to tell how the 'pen is going to shape up next year, so no prediction from me here. I would say, however, that the odds he returns aren't too low.
Rays fans have been fortunate to witness the resurgence of Kelly Johnson in 2013. Johnson has been very valuable for the Rays this season, serving as one of the most productive bats in the middle of the Tampa Bay lineup while filling in at numerous positions.
The 31-year-old is making $2.45 million this season, a salary that will likely rise next year. My prediction is that Johnson is signed by a team more in need of a bat this offseason.
James Loney has played like an All-Star this year after a disappointing 2012 season. He's among the team's best both offensively and defensively, posting a very impressive 130 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC-plus) and 3.5 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) at first base.
The Rays are definitely going to have to pay Loney more than the $2 million they're paying him now if they want to keep him, but he'll be worth the money, as they'll be in need of a first baseman.
I expect to see Loney back in Tampa Bay in 2014.
Jose Molina is 38 years old, but he appears to have at least another year left in him. With weak organizational depth at the catching position, I'd be surprised if Molina doesn't return next season.
The Rays are a fan of his affordability, and the value he brings to the team with his pitch framing and experience.
It looks like this could be the end of the road for Kyle Farnsworth. He's struggled to find a mid- or high-leverage role with the Rays this season, posting a 5.23 ERA over 20.2 innings.
My prediction is that the 37-year-old hangs up his cleats after parting ways with Tampa Bay at the end of the year.
Jamey Wright is another member of the Rays' bullpen nearing the end of his career.
The 38-year-old, who currently owns a 3.38 ERA as Tampa Bay's middle reliever/groundball specialist, was signed to a minor-league contract last offseason.
My guess is that the Rays re-sign Wright for another minor-league deal likely worth less than $1 million.
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