Now that decision Saturday is finished, the Rays roster has gotten a bit clearer in some areas, yet remains unsettled in others. Not surprising, but B.J. Upton, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour and Kelly Shoppach were all tendered contracts for the 2010 season. Barring an unforeseen event, all should be back with the Rays. The remaining questions are: who will sign before the mid-January deadline? And will any have a hearing like Dioner Navarro did last season?
Speaking of Navarro, a non-tender candidate in his own right, he was not only tendered a contract, but re-signed before the midnight deadline to a one-year deal with $2.1 million dollars avoiding arbitration altogether. The $2.1 million dollar salary is an exact replica of the salary Navarro received in 2009 after an arbitration panel denied his request for $2.5 million. It's not secret Navarro was just awful in 2009, but some of that awfulness can be explained by bad luck.
Even with regression, it seems that Navarro and the other catcher on the roster, Shoppach, are not ideal platoon partners with each player owning a similar platoon split. The Rays could stay status-quo on the position, or could continue to shop Navarro as was reported before Saturday's deadline. The going rate on an average catcher this year seems to be $3 million annually; Navarro could be a cheaper, alternative to some on the open market. If not, they Rays will have about ~$5 million dollars tied up at the catcher position with no clear cut answer to who is the starter.
Gabe Gross's non-tender is not a surprise. His name was never mentioned by Joe Maddon or Andrew Friedman as part of the 2010 plans, and Matt Joyce will never be more ready than he is now. Maybe the Rays will sign Ryan Langerhans for R.J. to obsess over.
R.J. covered the one-year deals of Randy Choate and Lance Cormier that will pay the bullpen duo a combined $1.9 million dollars in 2010. Choate will head in to spring training as the lead LOOGY in the clubhouse, while Cormier will nearly double his 2009 salary ($650k) and earn $1.2 million dollars. With Andy Sonnanstine and Mitch Talbot in the mix for bullpen spots, the raise for Cormier could mean an expanded role; one more similar to fellow ground baller, Chad Bradford instead of just mop-up man.
Among players non-tendered by other teams, I think Matt Capps makes the most sense for the Rays. The Rays had reported interest in him before the deadline, and it's easy to see why. Capps is still young at age 26, and was well above average in 2007 and 2008. It's strange that the Huntington/Fox front office would cut him loose based on one bad season in which some regression seems to be in order. If the Rays can some how dig into their new, seemingly bottom-less, purse one more time this offseason, Capps would seem like a decent investment since his new team would also hold his rights for 2011.