Andrew Friedman has been telling us the Rays have been close to the limit in terms of payroll, but Stu Sternberg confirmed it this morning by telling reporters the following:
In past talks I've had in spring training, I've responded and said we'll have that flexibility. We don't have that flexibility,'' he said. "At some point, you put your back to the wall, and I think that's where we are right now. We, quite frankly, can't really afford what we've got on the field this year. At least we were able to spend the money on a lot of value, we think, and pieces that will give us the opportunity to grow the franchise over the long haul that gives us the best opportunity for success this year. This was one where somewhat of my competitiveness came out in this. I think we have a real opportunity to win.''
Sternberg also added that the lack of flexibility would limit the team's ablity to makes moves mid season, but added:
"you never say never" and his answer could be "a little different" in June or July.
This makes the signings of Jason Isringhausen, Adam Kennedy and Morgan Ensberg all that more important. With lack of flexiblity to go and get another player from other teams, each could serve as a mid season acquisition in their own right. Also, Chad Bradford could be a shot in the arm(no pun intended) when he returns in May or June.