The Rays and the Non-Tender Deadline | The Process Report

The Rays and the Non-Tender Deadline

Update The Rays have tendered contracts to all eligible players except Ben Francisco.

The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is Friday night. Eight players on the Rays’ roster will have their futures decided by then. Let’s look at which players are set to return to St. Pete, and which have played their final game with the club.

David Price is the surest of sure things to receive a tender. The Rays did well to re-sign Price to a one-year deal last winter worth a little more than $4.3 million. Price still has three arbitration years remaining, including this winter, because of his Super Two status. Expect Price to go year-to-year since he does not have much incentive to sign away his earning potential. If Price stays healthy, he will become one of the highest-paid players in the league after the 2015 season.

One of Price’s potential rotation mates, Jeff Niemann, is a forgotten man after missing most of the season’s final five months. Niemann lost his first arbitration hearing in February, netting $2.75 million instead of his requested $3.2 million, but figures to receive a raise despite the lost season. The Rays could non-tender Niemann if they’re uncomfortable with his shaky health—more so than normal, that is. Otherwise, he figures to get a tender.

A duo of useful role players, Burke Badenhop and Sam Fuld, should also receive tenders. Neither figures to make enough money to merit non-tender consideration. Contrariwise, the problem with Matt Joyce is that he’s in line to make too much money in the near future. It’s well-deserved but may thwart the team’s attempts to sign him to an extension.

The closest thing the Rays have to a surefire non-tender is Ben Francisco. Entering his final year of team control, Francisco is in line to make more than $1.6 million. Perhaps if the veteran outfielder had performed better last season the Rays would be in line to keep him. As is, the Rays are probably better off combing the trade and free-agent markets for similar players available at cheaper wages. If all else fails, Brandon Guyer could man the position.

Finally, there are the Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Roberts decisions. If the Rays only keep one, it has to be Rodriguez—he’s younger, cheaper, and more versatile than Roberts is. Some may wince at the idea of Rodriguez receiving close to a million, but keep in mind that non-tendered right-handed utility infielders like Jeff Keppinger and Ryan Theriot signed one-year deals last winter worth between $1.3 and $1.6 million. Roberts, on the other hand, will make at least $2 million through the arbitration process.