Andrew Friedman doesn't believe in windows of opportunity, and avows that the Rays' goal is to make the playoffs every single year. He plays for the present and the future simultaneously, and that means that as fans we need to think of both during the off-season.
That always makes my head spin. Keeping track of contracts is not my strong suit, so I've made a spreadsheet showing Rays' major-league payroll commitments from now until 2023 (when the Evan Longoria contract expires). This is not the roster the Rays will enter the season with. This is what they could field right now. We'll try to keep this on the front page and update it as it chances.
Notes for understanding the chart:
- Blue denotes seasons before a player reaches arbitration, orange denotes his arbitration seasons. Basically, when a player is promoted to the major leagues, he is under team control for six seasons. For the first three of them he is played the league minimum (about $500K), and then in his fourth season of "service time" he'll enter arbitration, wherein his salary escalates a bit each year, based on his performance. For more information on the service time clock, read the entry in Steve Slowinski's ever-useful FanGraphs glossary.
- There's an exception to the basic arbitration rule. When a player begins his third year of service time, if he's in the top percentage of all players beginning their third year of service time he is designated as a "super two." That means that rather than playing for the league minimum in his third season he immediately enters the arbitration process and will have four arbitration years, making him more expensive (David Price is a super two).
- I've taken service time and arbitration year projections from this chart at Cot's baseball contracts.
- For 2014 arbitration prices, I've used the projections from MLB Trade Rumors. For future years, I've merely noted which arbitration year it will be for the player. As a rough rule of thumb, players will earn 40% of their free agent value in arb1, 60% in arb2, and 80% in arb3. This will of course go up for super two players. Note that when there is no salary figure in the chart for a season, it is not added to the salary total at the bottom. This does not mean that it doesn't exist.
- Purple denotes players under contract. Baseball contracts are guaranteed.
- Green denotes a team option. This means that the Rays can choose whether or not to retain the player. In some cases, there is a buyout on the option. When applicable the buyouts are listed at the bottom of the chart.
- All contract and option information is taken from Cot's. One exception is Juan Carlos Oviedo. His option is not in Cot's, but the Tampa Tribune reports it here.
- Lastly, as I've said, I find this difficult. I imagine I've messed up somewhere. Let me know in the comments and I'll change it.