I will try to write more about this later but here are a few quick thoughts.
-As I wrote in September, the $22MM the Rays need to drop from payroll is easy to get to without having a huge effect on the on-field product.
-The Rays bullpen will likely be totally new next year. Soriano and Benoit are both likely to command big free agent contracts and, it looks like management is willing to re-think the bridge from our starting staff to whomever closes games next year.
-There were two interesting quotes in today’s St. Pete Timesthat encapsulate just how far this franchise has come:
“Peña hopes to stay, saying the organization ‘means the world to me’ and ‘I almost feel like I have this organization running through my veins.’
‘I think we worked really hard to get to this point, to free agency, and it’s our wish to take advantage of the best opportunities out there,’ he said. ‘My wish is that the best opportunity and the best situation for me is here in Tampa Bay, obviously.’”
“When you sign, they say, ‘Make the decision tough on us,’ Balfour said. ‘Go out there and perform and do a good job and make the decision hard on them. They’ve got plenty of guys that want to come back, it’s just a matter if they want to keep them.’”
Not only has the front office turned this franchise from a laughingstock into AL East Champions, it made this franchise a place that players want to sign. That is remarkable.