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Tampa Bay Rays News and Links: Steven Strasburg reportedly signs record deal with Washington Nationals

The World Series MVP returns to Washington

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Washington Nationals Victory Parade Photo by Chaz Niell/Getty Images

The baseball world gathered in San Diego for the first day of the Winter Meetings.

These meetings have an actual agenda; yesterday’s schedule began with a “fun run,” and we would love to be flies on the wall when the assorted GMs gather for “Baseball Winter Meetings Yoga” on Wednesday. For fans, however, the Winter Meetings are eagerly awaited because offseason trades and free agent signings so often result from the informal meetings that occur outside the formal program.

The Rule 5 draft will occur at the end of the four day session, on Thursday. The Rays have lost a few unprotected players to this draft in the past, most notably Josh Hamilton. Steve Kinsella of Sportstalk Florida provides a rundown of which Tampa Bay prospects could get picked up by other teams.

Rays news

There are several Rays beat reporters who have checked in from San Diego, including MLB’s Juan Toribio; The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino; Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times; Steve Kinsella of Sportstalk Florida; WDAE’s Steve Carney and Neil Solondz with Rays Radio, so we can expect coverage of any moves the team makes.

You can read a transcript of Kevin Cash’s news conference here ($)

Rays are “having conversations”, as per Steve Carney’s The Inside Pitch podcast. Neil Solondz is also podcasting from San Diego, you can hear his Day 1 observations here.

So, the Rays broke baseball (openers, etc) but maybe will use a traditional rotation in 2020? My head hurts. ($)

And, uh, hold the (virtual) presses; Marc Topkin notes that as of Monday evening the trade sending Tommy Pham to San Diego has not, in fact, been finalized. Could there be medical issues holding it up? ($)

Around the League

Jason Stark of the Athletic thinks the meetings are a bit of snooze and has some thoughts about how to give them some zing. Like...announce the major individual awards, or give teams some sort of financial incentive to sign free agents before Winter Meetings end. ($)

Talks are underway between MLB and the MLBPA to institute testing for opioids. This comes after the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Scaggs, which has led to more open conversations about opioid addiction as a league-wide problem. Interestingly, this agreement may also end the practice of screening minor leaguers for marijuana use.

In Hall of Fame voting news, the Modern Baseball Era Committee, which considers the HOF cases of those who failed to win election in their initial eligibility period, voted to admit two new members. Ted Simmons was an All-Star catcher with several American League teams for nearly two decades. Marvin Miller was the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players association during the key years in which free agency was established.

David Price no longer has the largest ever pitcher contract, as Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals have agreed on a seven-year, $245 million contract. Some portion of that salary is deferred, which, according to reports, means the Nats still have the payroll flexibility to be active in the free agent market. Gerrit Cole is going to be a wealthy young man.

Rocco Baldelli is apparently the most handsome manager in baseball. Cash would fare better in these ratings if he bothered to shave.

Old Friend Updates

There are reports that catcher David Rodriguez, who chose minor league free agency after seven years in the Rays system, most recently with the Biscuits, will sign with the Mets.

Former Rays pitcher Jose de Leon is making himself at home in Cincinnati: