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Tampa Bay Rays Contract Updates: Navarro, Cormier, Aybar, and J.P. Howell Released

Here's where we stand, courtesy of Marc Topkin:

DanJo - Tendered
Sonnanstine - Tendered
Upton - Tendered
Garza - Tendered
Bartlett - Tendered

Navarro - Released
Cormier - Released
Aybar - Released
Howell - Released

I'm somewhat in shock. Navarro, Cormier, and Aybar were no surprises, but I really didn't expect Howell to be non-tendered. Apparently the Rays still intend to sign Howell, just to a cheaper contract, but man - that doesn't send good signals about his arm. Even if Howell had gone to arbitration, there's no way he would have received a raise on his $1.8M salary from last year; he could even have gotten a pay decrease. We're risking exposing him to free agency for around $1.5M in saved money? Odd, but if we're positive we can resign him, it does make sense to save the money.

Also, Topkin is reporting that Friedman is still interested in bringing back Aybar and Cormier potentially, but he wants to remain flexible at the moment. In other words, we'll take them for the right price and if things line up right.

Update: This is certainly great news:

Non-tendered Howell expects to be back with #Rays: "I'd be shocked if that didn't happen. I want to be a Ray. It's where I know success.''

We can all take a sigh of relief. It seems like the Rays just found a way to save another couple million bucks.