Dave Cameron wrote about this a few days ago, and to be honest I'm not sure if the rate has changed, and if so by how much, but regardless, the point stands. Of any recent free agency period for the Rays to splurge a little and upgrade where needed, this is the market to go for it in. Thus far, teams are paying about $3M per win, which is an incredible discount on what we've seen in previous years. Now, that is going to change, as Dave notes, this could just be small sample size and a shift in the roster types signing early - mostly older guys who generally wouldn't cash in until spring was in the air - plus none of the big-timers have signed yet.
In combination with what was discussed here, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone if the Rays go out and sign another reliever. Not a Type-A arm, mind you, but another middle reliever type. This is the ultimate buyers market right now, and the Rays have one bullpen slot they can conceivably shift towards a new addition. Consider these quotes from Joe Maddon in yesterday's Boston Herald as well:
"I think when you're running a bullpen by committee, what happens - actually a matchup bullpen more than by committee, matchup bullpens you have to be really careful not getting people tired just by getting them up and not utilizing them," Maddon said. "You're getting guys up and you see a situation arising, all of a sudden the situation goes away, and he's already warmed up for that particular juncture and then you may have to get him up two innings later for the same thing. That's difficult. So when you're running matchups as much as we did, my concern would be that you get people tired even though they don't actually pitch in games."
"They have a bunch of good left-handed hitters and switch hitters," Maddon said. "It's hard to match up with them. You have to have righties that pitch well against lefties as an example, like Lance Cormier was very prominent against them last year, or a lefty that pitches well against righties as well as lefties, J.P. Howell.
The Rays had two relievers reliable against both hands last season when using their three-year platoon splits; Howell and Balfour. Boston, on the other hand, had in upwards of five at the end of the season. The Rays have since added Soriano, giving them three end-game options against either hand, and the Sox have lost Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito.
Of course, Mitch Talbot is out of options, but so were Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann, yet Lance Cormier was still signed to take the role of long-man. It's evident the Rays are going hard after 2010, which means don't be shocked if they land another modestly paid pen arm is added between now and spring.
This is barely related, but did anyone else find the comments about payroll potentially decreasing after 2010 a bit ... funny? I know what Silverman was saying, and he probably has a good point, but the club has $37 or so million coming off the books - including the four highest paid players - given this team's farm system, there is absolutely, positively no way they would spend nearly $40M in one off-season. Of course the payroll would decline after this year. He didn't let the cat out of the bag here. And to think, I already had my Derek Jeter/Joe Mauer lineup magnets made.