Rays Commit to Having Lowest Payroll in 2017
With the Twins willing to pay Jason Castro half of what he is worth instead of a quarter, as the Rays would have liked, the latter team is clearly ready to retain its crown of having the lowest payroll in the game for the second year in a row.
Depending on how arbitration shakes out and whatever they have to pay to their big free agent splash this year, Dana Eveland, you’re looking at something like a $65M payroll, which should be good for dead last in MLB, again. Castro ultimately signed for three years and $24.5M with the Twins so you’re talking around $8M per season, or roughly one win above replacement in free agency. If he’s worth three wins over the deal then he has done well. I put him at closer to six. I’m sure the Rays would have liked to pay him like he’ll be worth one and a half.
The team made a bid, allegedly, though unsurprisingly they never improved upon the initial offer. This begs the question of why you lead with your best offer or why even make one in the first place if your initial, lowball offer gets predictably beaten? It has to be one of the two. Nothing like getting out-negotiated by a rookie GM to lend confidence to your fanbase.
So where from here? If the team earmarked something like $6.9M for Castro perhaps this means they will be able to spend it in another place. Unfortunately, if the team thought a two-plus WAR player wasn’t worth that kind of money they’re going to be awfully sore when they realize that no one else profiles similarly. Players are either going to get too much money or aren’t as productive. Castro was in the sweet spot. Maybe this means they can now sign Steve Pearce and Rajai Davis for something like $6M apiece. The thing is, you could have gotten one of those guys before and they come with much lower ceilings than a catcher on the strong side of a platoon.
I’m sure the team will find some retread in free agency like Ryan Webb last year that will show just how very committed they are to holding on to that valuable lowest payroll in the game crown. Hell, if they only spend $65M this year then they only need to win 65 games to have a positively mouth-watering dollar per WAR of $1M. They will be the envy of the league at that point as teams will fall over themselves in praise of such lofty goal-chasing.