The non-tender deadline is this evening at 11:59 PM EST, and the Rays will have nine players approaching arbitration. It will be up to the front office to offer them a contract for the next year, or "non-tender" the player into free agency.
Of the nine players eligible, some are obvious answers: David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, presumed closer Jake McGee, your new DH Matt Joyce, utility man Sean Rodriguez, and returning catcher Jose Lobaton.
Others have question marks next to their name.
The Rays acquired LOOGY Wesley Wright from Houston last season, presumably for his change up, and the expectation is that he will be retained, but he's a trade candidate to be sure. The Rays have sent off other relievers with increasing salaries, like Burke Badenhop, whose salary was increasing to $1.55M. Wes has a projected salary of $1.4M.
De facto longman of the bullpen Cesar Ramos was somewhat usurped by (now free agent) Jamey Wright last season, and if the Rays would like to clear room for JW to return, cutting Ramos loose or trading him would be an appropriate course of action. Ramos is out of options but left handed, so he should be easy to ship elsewhere for cash considerations. Maybe that cash makes Wesley Wright seem reasonable.
Finally, also out of options is the beloved Sam Fuld, who told Roger Mooney he's had the non-tender deadline "circled on the calendar." Mooney reiterates that the signing of same-handed David DeJesus, along with opposite handed Brandon Guyer now out of options, means the outfield stacked for the Rays, with no obvious place for Fuld.
I have to agree, after running the numbers for platoon splits among players to man left field next season, Fuld was the third most qualified against right handed pitching, and fourth of four against left handed. The Rays will also be deeper defensively next season in the outfield, and Fuld is not as strong of a base stealing threat as Guyer would be (22 steals last season).
If the Rays have to see Fuld off, one alternative that I've floated is trading him to Oakland for non-tender candidate Daric Barton, a great buy low candidate to man first base next season with quality defense.
Then again, maybe Oakland will simply release him to free agency and the Rays can bid. An acquisition would give the Rays three year of control for the 28-year old as he finishes his rookie contract, while a bid in free agency would be inexpensive. Either route would probably require just $1.5M.
Be on the look out for other non-tendered players who may be of use to the Rays as the day goes on.