Tomorrow's Off-Season Decision: The Rays and Tendering Contracts

Thank goodness we've likely seen the last of him.

Now that free agents have finished making their arbitration decisions, it's time for decisions to be made regarding team-controlled players and arbitration. This concept can be a bit confusing for people (and heck, I don't even know all the details), so give you the simple version: when a player is called up from the minors and added to a major league team's roster, they're under team control for the next six seasons, meaning they can't become free agents during this time.

For the first three seasons, a player receives whatever the major-league team decides to pay them: normally the major-league minimum salary of 400K with a 10% bonus each year. For the three seasons following that, a player goes through arbitration, a process where their salary is decided by an objective panel. The player submits what salary he thinks he deserves, the team submits the salary they think the player deserves, and the panel decides which one is fair. Each year that a player gets closer to free agency, their salary normally gets closer and closer to what it would resemble on the open market. And of course, teams and players can avoid the arbitration hearing entirely by agreeing on a contract beforehand; this happens quite often.

Why is this relevant? Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to decide if they're going to offer their arbitration-eligible players contracts and commit to paying them for the next season, or if they're going to release the players and let them become a free agents. The Rays have a total of nine players that are arbitration eligible:

DanJo - Arb 1
Sonnanstine - Arb 1
Upton - Arb 2
Garza - Arb 2
Howell - Arb 2
Bartlett - Arb 3
Navarro - Arb 3
Aybar - Arb 3
Cormier - Arb 4

Who do you think the Rays will tender a contract, and who do you think they'll release? My guess is that they'll tender contracts to everyone except Dioner Navarro, Willy Aybar, and Lance Cormier. I could see the Rays keeping Cormier or Aybar around, but I don't think there's any way Navarro is still a Ray by the end of tomorrow.

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