Curt Schilling is talking again. That fact alone isn't news, but what he's saying is pretty interesting. In a story by David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel, Schilling said that if the situation was right then "Absolutely I'll come back." When asked about who he might want to pitch for he mentioned a team that hasn't won a championship. Then he made this statement:
"The challenge would be in a place like Tampa Bay or Chicago."
Normally, I don't listen to what Schilling has to say, but as I'm writing this the Phillies are currently beating the Rays and I have nothing else on tap so I'll play along.
Obviously the first concern is salary. This week Stu Sternberg flat out said that the Rays are pretty close to the max in terms of salary, if not at the mark already. Schilling expressed that money isn't necessarily important for him, but for the Rays does paying Schilling even a million dollars make sense?
The Rays are stacked in terms of starters. Regardless of who is the 5th starter out of spring training, I think most people agree that the bulk of the starts will go to: James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine and David Price. In 2008 all five Rays starters made at least 27 starts. Now the hope is they can do it again, but no other AL team accomplished that in 2008 and it's not realistic to think the Rays will be able to repeat that.
Let's say at some point the Rays go down a starter or even two, is a 42-year-old Curt Schilling better than Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann or Mitch Talbot? Is the difference so much so that you'd pay Schilling a million dollars? Even at his advanced age Schilling is still an average to above average pitcher. At age 40 in 2007, he was a 2.9 WAR starter. That's almost $12 million dollars worth of production. However, Schilling made 24 starts that season, which is a number he won't come close to this year. He also lost about two MPH from 2006 to 2007 and that was before he missed 2008 with a "significant" shoulder injury.
At this point we just don't know how effective Schilling would be and that makes it hard to gauge his value. Is it interesting to imagine Curt Schilling wearing a blue Rays sock in the playoffs? Yes. If the injury bug hits the Rays rotation could there be a mutual interest? I'm sure there could, but right now the Rays have plenty of internal options and with payroll being stretched to the max, I just don't see a Schilling/Rays marriage working out.