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Tampa Bay Rays willing to spend for the right player

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Meetings kick off today and will run through Thursday, with the Rule 5 draft concluding the event.

Prior to the Meetings, Marc Topkin took some time to do a Q&A on the Tampa Bay Times website, answering a variety of Rays related questions. One commenter questioned whether the Rays would actually open their wallets and spend on some of the premier players available.

Topkin noted his belief that the Rays are willing to spend at least $15M a year if the right player were to come along.

Without debating your descriptions, I’ve heard enough to believe that for the right player - which obviously is subjective - they would spend around $15 M a year, tho on a short-term of course.

A couple of players come to mind who would fit that description, with one particular slugger, Nelson Cruz, piquing a lot of interest. Nelson Cruz has been projected to sign a two year deal, with a $15M annual figure predicted. He is projected to slash 261./341./498 in 2019.

The Rays have also been linked to Edwin Encarnacion, who will be making north of $20M in 2019, but would also serve as a tremendous boost to the Rays offensive capabilities. His 2019 projected slash line is .246./342./474.

Rays fans might have bad memories of the last time the team went above their usual free agent budget to sign a slugger; Pat Burrell underperformed badly and the Rays ended up dumping him in 2010. But his woes were linked to a difficult transition to DH; both Cruz and Encarnacion have spent some time in that role.