With Kyle Farnsworth officially re-signing for one year at a guaranteed amount of $1.3M, which can double due to un-named incentives and Kelly Johnson, also, officially joining the Rays for $2.45M the Rays 40-man roster was hurtin for certain. Add in that Luke Scott has unofficially signed and the Rays needed to clear three spots, and quick.
Word has come down that Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac will be the first two of these three casualties. Elliot Johnson’s time in the Show saw him demonstrate that he just wasn’t quite good enough to play SS and that he just didn’t hit enough to play anywhere else. Reid Brignac was cut from a similar cloth, but think slightly more glove and much less bat. It was no secret that Brignac’s time with the team was running short as Reid had seemed to sour decision-makers with his antics on and off the field. I wish I could say he will be missed. Elliot Johnson has passed through waivers before and there may still be a chance for him to sneak through again.
The Rays were smart to wait as long as possible for two reasons. 1) You should never give anything away so they were smart to look to try to receive anything in trade for either or both of these guys and 2) the closer we get to Spring Training the fewer the amount of available jobs meaning an increased likelihood of each player passing through waivers and remaining in the only organization either has ever known.
With one more spot needed to sign Luke Scott it would appear to be a foregone conclusion that Dane De La Rosa should be thinking about the tedious process of having the Post Office forward his mail. Much like Elliot Johnson, DDLR was a fine player that just isn’t quite good enough to be a contributor on a team with playoff aspirations.
These players should not take this as a knock, but as a sign of how strong the Rays organization is these days. Twas a time when these guys not only would have room on the 40-man, but they’d also be starting in the Show. Those days are long gone and it’s an enviable position when the players that are cut could probably provide value to a team in MLB. Good luck to both players as they likely move on to another organization. Here’s a look at the Rays 40-man and contract situations after these moves:
Note that I have estimated Luke Scott’s 2013 contract as a one year deal for $3,000,000 with no options. Also note that I have no insight into that and hope that he signs for less and they get cheap options tacked on. Further note that this puts the Rays 2013 payroll at roughly $56M if we count Price’s $4M deferment against 2014. Here’s the preceding years of the Friedberg era (I realize their names are Friedman and Sternberg this is an attempt at being clever. No need to call the ACLU):
The interesting takeaway here is that if the Rays want to keep their three-year average payroll around $60M then they can bump up 2014 payroll to around $60M. With roughly $33M already on the books, including the extra David Price deferment assuming he isn’t traded before that’s paid, and a bevy of cheap starters on the way, the Rays could be poised to make a splash in free agency, or more likely, extend one of their homegrown talents throughout that player’s prime.
The way that this front office manages money while not letting quality suffer is to be commended.