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Offseason Outlook: Tampa Bay Rays

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In conjunction with this post, Darragh McDonald will be hosting a Rays-centric chat today at 1pm. Click here to ask a question in advance, join in or read the transcript after it’s complete.

The 2022 Rays fell short of capturing their third straight AL East crown but still qualified for the postseason for a fourth straight season. They have a small free agent class, meaning the vast majority of the gang can be brought back for another year. However, with a huge arbitration class that featured 19 players lined up for raises, and large number of Rule 5-eligible prospects, they will be forced to make some tough decisions, a process that has already begun.

Guaranteed Contracts

  • Wander Franco, SS: $176MM through 2032, including $2MM buyout on $25MM option for 2033.
  • Tyler Glasnow, SP: $30.35MM through 2024.
  • Manuel Margot, OF: $19MM through 2024, including $2MM buyout on $12MM mutual option for 2025.
  • Brandon Lowe, IF/OF: $15MM through 2024, including $1MM buyout on $10.5MM club option for 2025. Club also has $11.5MM option for for 2026 with $500K buyout.
  • Brooks Raley, RP: $5.75MM through 2023, including $1.25MM buyout on $6.5MM club option for 2024.

Option Decisions

Total 2023 commitments: $27.85MM
Total future commitments: $248.6MM

Arbitration-Eligible Players (projected 2023 salaries via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

Free Agents

The Rays entered 2022 having won the division title in 2020 and 2021, looking to be strong yet again. It was a bit of a disappointing season though, with the club bitten pretty hard by the injury bug, particularly on the pitching staff. Despite various ailments, they still snuck into the playoffs by going 86-76 and taking the final Wild Card spot in the first year of the 12-team expanded playoffs. With much of the same roster in place for next year, it’s possible that the club will be better in 2023 just by having better luck on the health front. However, as is always the case with the Rays, payroll concerns might lead to some notable subtractions and creative solutions, especially with the loaded arbitration class.

Since Tampa’s decisions are usually motivated by money in some way, let’s talk turkey up front. Roster Resource estimates that the club’s 2023 payroll is currently slated to be around $72MM. The club had an Opening Day figure of $84MM in 2022, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. A surprise splurge can’t be totally ruled out, since they reportedly made an offer to Freddie Freeman a year ago. However,…

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