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Tampa Bay Rays News and Links: Are the 2019 Rays a “surprise” team?

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Tommy Pham says “no” — meanwhile, the Blue Jays are raising their minor league pay dramatically

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Philadelphia Phillies Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays are ready to embrace change, finalizing minor-league pay increase of more than 50 percent, according to Emily Walden & Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic. This is a big, important, potential first domino in what could (should) lead to more teams following suit.

The story follows a March 15th article by Walden highlighting the struggle of minor leaguers affording to stay in the game titled, ‘I can’t afford to play this game’: Minor-leaguers open up about the realities of their pay, and its impact on their lives. This is a really tremendous piece from Walden, bringing the reality that minor leaguers have and the struggle it is to make this as a career at the current pay structure.

A note from the Editor: In a world where the majority of baseball punditry focuses on the Collective Bargaining Agreement that is set for negotiations for 2021, an increase in minor league pay has the potential to impact many more players’ lives and is worthy of our attention.

Before we focus on how to make millionaires’ lives more equitable, let’s give a living wage to every person who works in this $10 billion sport.

Rays News

MLB Preview: Which Team Will Be The Biggest Surprise In 2019? - Baseball America: Despite winning 90 games last year, the Rays still seem to be overlooked by many, so them being good would surprise the masses.

Pham: Rays will be ‘a force’ in 2019 - Juan Toribio, MLB.com: Tommy Pham knows the league aren’t surprised by the Rays young and talented team.

What are those black boxes and sports-bra like vests? Part of Rays’ venture into high-tech world - Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times: Brave new world of tech! Check out one of the rare looks we’ll get behind the scenes at what the Rays have been up to, particularly in the last three years.

’Comfortable’ Beeks eyes Opening Day roster - Juan Toribio, MLB.com: The lefty the Rays received in the Nate Eovaldi trade has looked good this spring, and seems poised to take the next step.

Blake Snell salary situation reveals the best and worst of the Rays - John Romano offers a Sunday Times take on the Rays $5,500 increase given to Cy Young winner Blake Snell; meanwhile Marc Topkin has the response from the Player’s Union on the situation, noting:

But, with the sides headed toward a potentially onerous negotiation regarding financial structure in 2021 (if not sooner), the union deserves some blame for agreeing to the current system, which also has led to marginalizing the value of some veteran players.

Topkin also has some good quotes about the bullpen battle:

Around the League

Former Rays reliever Brandon Gomes has been promoted to Assistant GM in LA, as has brief Rays player Will Rhymes:

It’s Big Ball Chunky Time