Heading into Friday, the Rays had eight arbitration eligible players that they had yet to reach an agreement with, and had until 1:00 PM to sign a deal, or due to self-imposed restrictions by the club, cases would have to settled in court.
When the deadline hit, six deals had yet to be announced, making it appear as if the Rays would be pulling six players out of Spring Training camp for hearings, but news eventually broke that every played had reached an agreement. Down to the wire!
Here's how things shaped up:
Projections are from MLBTradeRumors
Desmond Jennings - Projected = $3.2 M / Actual = $3.1 M
Jennings batted .244 (117-for-479) with 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 123 games in 2014, including a team-high 70 starts at leadoff. He is one of seven players in the majors to reach double-digit homers and stolen bases in each of the last four seasons.
John Jaso - Projected = $3.3 M / Actual = $3.175 M
The recently re-acquired Jaso looks to serve a platoon designated hitter role next season as the "third catcher" on the roster.
Jake McGee - Projected = $3.8 M / Actual =$3.55 M
McGee ranked among the AL’s top 10 relievers in WAR (2.6, third), appearances (tied for fifth), strikeouts (90, seventh) FIP (fifth) and ERA (ninth). McGee can get an additional $25k for pitching in 65 games, and another $25k for reaching 70 games. Bone Spur surgery will side line him for the beginning of the season.
Alex Cobb - Projected = $4.5 / Actual = $4.0 M
Cobb went 10-9 with a 2.87 ERA (166.1-IP, 53-ER) in 27 starts in 2014. He is the only American League pitcher with 10-plus wins, a winning record and a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons. In four seasons with the Rays, he is 35-23 with a 3.21 ERA, which ranks second in club history (min. 300 IP).
Rene Rivera - Projected = $1.3 M / Actual = $1.2 M
Rivera posted career highs in nearly every category after a journeyman's career, but looks to have solidified a starting role with his acquisition by the Rays in the Myers deal. Rivera can earn up to $200k in incentives
Logan Forsythe - Projected = $1.2 M / Actual = $1.1 M
After reaching a career high in games played last season at 110, Forsythe is hoping to catch some of his magic from 2012 again next season, likely filing a platoon role at second base, and possibly backing up the other infield positions. He can earn an extra $25k for reaching 400 PA.
Kevin Jepsen - Projected = $2.6 M / Actual = $3.025 M
The most surprising outcome of the settlements, Jepsen was the sole prize in the Matt Joyce deal with the Angels early in the off-season. Jepsen set career bests across the board last season, and ranked well against the American League with a 2.63 ERA (22nd) and 2.78 FIP (11th). He will be in the running as Rays closer as McGee recovers from elbow surgery.
Drew Smyly - Projected = $3 M / Actual $2.65 M
In his first of four arbitration cases as a Super Two, Smyly is eligible for a $25k bonus if he reaches 28 starts, and another $25k for reaching 30. Smyly allowed three runs or fewer in all seven Rays starts after his mid-season acquisition in the Price trade, establishing a club record to begin a Rays career.
There were no multi-year deals signed. Since the Rays were able settle with each eligible player, this marks the third straight year the team has not had to go to court to reach an agreement, though the team has had considerable success during those cases, going undefeated.
Meanwhile, former Ray, David Price, set a new record for an arbitration eligible player with an agreement that guaranteed him $19.75 million for the year. That's more than double the salary of the Rays' projected opening day rotation.