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News » Tampa Bay Rays Roster Report 2008-12-30

Tampa Bay Rays Roster Report 2008-12-30

Tampa Bay Rays Roster Report 2008-12-30
As disappointed as they were to lose the World Series in five games, the Rays were encouraged by their future possibilities. Virtually all of their key players are under age 30 and under team control. The challenge going into the offseason will be to find ways to improve the team without disrupting the core too much.

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Rays may not have to look far, but their first priority has to be to define a true closer. If RHP Troy Percival is healthy, he is signed for next season and certainly capable of filling that role. But he was not available much of the second half, and that forced the Rays into a variety of patchwork solutions. They are also in need of another power bat to put in the middle of their lineup, preferably with a player who can be their everyday right fielder.

ARRIVALS: OF Matt Joyce (trade with Tigers), RHP Derek Rodriguez (Rule 5 selection from White Sox).

DEPARTURES: LHP Trever Miller (free agent, signed with Cardinals), RHP Edwin Jackson (traded to Tigers).

FREE AGENTS: OF Rocco Baldelli, DH Cliff Floyd, OF Eric Hinske, OF Jonny Gomes (non-tendered).

Baldelli, whose playing time was limited by his battles with a disorder that left him fatigued, seems likely to re-sign in a reserve role. Hinske was a key player but is in line for a big raise from his $800,000 bargain rate and is likely to move on. The Rays declined an option on Floyd, but they could continue talks, especially because the veteran really enjoyed playing in Tampa Bay.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: INF Willy Aybar, RHP Grant Balfour, SS Jason Bartlett, OF Gabe Gross, C Dioner Navarro.

Bartlett and Navarro are in line for hefty raises to the $2 million range, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Rays approach each about a longer-term deal. Aybar, Balfour and Gross were surprisingly productive and filled key roles, so the Rays are likely to keep them around.

IN LIMBO: The Rays showed last offseason that there are very few untouchables when they dealt from depth and traded OF Delmon Young to Minnesota in exchange for SS Jason Bartlett and RHP Matt Garza. Going into this offseason, they could do so again by trading away young pitching, as they have more arms than slots in the rotation. RHP Edwin Jackson could be a prime candidate to be dealt. Other players who could be talked about include OF Gabe Gross, and, in more radical situations, LF Carl Crawford or 2B Akinori Iwamura.


DH Cliff Floyd will find out soon what has to be done to repair what is believed to be a slightly torn labrum in his right shoulder. Floyd said he likely would retire if surgery were required.

CF B.J. Upton had surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder in November. He might not be ready for the start of spring training, but he is expected to be in the Opening Day lineup.

RHP Troy Percival had back surgery in December. He should be ready for Opening Day.

C Shawn Riggans, sidelined after September surgery on his right knee, should be 100 percent for the start of spring training.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: December 30, 2008

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