The Rays are in the headlines because of players rumored to leave, not players coming to the state of Florida.
Carl Crawford has been in negotiations with several teams, as has the notion of a trade for Jason Bartlett.
The Rays finished last year in bad fashion. Evan Longoria called out fans in Tampa Bay for selling out, and in an ironic turn, it was the Rays that were the sellouts.
That being said, the Rays posses some of the leagues best talent. As of late, they've offered seven players arbitration. All seven are guys that could really improve a team.
The players include OF's Carl Crawford and Brad Hawpe, and relievers Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Chad Qualls, Randy Choate, and Joaquin Benoit.
In the same breathe, the Rays didn't offer compensation for Carlos Pena and Dan Wheeler. OF's Rocco Baldelli and Gabe Kapler will also be free agents, as their contracts don't suggest compensation as necessary. They could start the season in the Rays farm system.
On the radar:
- Tampa Bay would like to have Balfour back, as his contract makes sense. The others are expected to decline the arbitration deal, which most players do. Because of the high quality of the players, the Rays could receive up to 10 draft picks if all seven of these players split from the Rays.
- Other then the slew of relievers at the end of their contracts, the Rays still have one of the most dominant rotations in the league. Look for the Rays to start shopping after the midnight deadline tonight (the deadline for players to accept arbitration or just become straight up free agents).
Strong points for a solid 2011 season:
- If Tampa Bay can retain some of their players, the Rays will look to have a really solid 2011 season. Time will tell, and for Tampa Bay especially, we have to wait in order to decide on how their season will end up.