The Tampa Bay Rays are in a very interesting position. For the first time in their history they are competing in the very competitive American League East.
The Rays have had an influx of talent, most of it originating in the farm systems and the draft. In a perfect world the Rays would be a powerhouse team in the American League over the next decade.
The problem is that the world is not perfect, and herein lies the problem of not having a salary cap in baseball. Currently the Rays have a number of players whose contracts expire over the next few years.
Furthermore, these are players that, unless things change drastically, will fetch huge contracts. Some of these players include:
- Carl Crawford: Signed through 2008 at $15 Million over four years
- B.J. Upton: Signed through 2008 at $0.5 Million over one year
Among the really positive things going on in the Rays organization is that finally the club is willing to spend a little bit more money. They have been able to (very intelligently) lock up most of their really young talent to very long-term deals before they hit superstardom.
The Rays are currently locked into contracts for the following players:
- Carlos Pena through 2010
- Scott Kazmir through 2012 (club option for 2012)
- James Shields through 2014
- David Price through 2012
- Evan Longoria through 2016
That gives them a really solid core for the next five years or so. The problem of course will come up again when they must attempt to lock up these players for even longer-term contracts.
In my opinion, taking these young players and combining them with veterans such as Cliff Floyd and Troy Percival is a recipe for greatness.
As we continue our move from old to youth in baseball, this team should lead the way, combining youth with amazing talent.
By the way...is anyone paying attention to David Price in the minors? He was just moved up to AA after blowing away batters in A.