ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays feel good about the moves they made during the first segment of the offseason.
Landing targeted free-agent pitchers Corey Kluber and Brooks Raley and getting a record-setting extension done with phenom Wander Franco made for a busy, rewarding and expensive month.
“Those were the two guys that we really pressed on and recruited and tried to make our pitch as to why we felt that they were best positioned to have success individually and collectively here,” baseball operations president Erik Neander said before the lockout (during which team officials aren’t allowed to talk about 40-man roster players). “So between that and the Wander extension, those were our big items for November.”
And big-ticket ones. The three deals cost the Rays a guaranteed $200 million and could max out at more than $250 million between incentives and Franco’s 2033 option.
They also picked up catcher Mike Zunino’s $7 million option, signed first baseman Ji-Man Choi to a $3.2 million one-year deal, tendered contracts to 13 arbitration-eligible players (who will make around $32 million, per mlbtraderumors.com projections), traded All-Star infielder Joey Wendle and four others and cleared space to add five prospects to the 40-man roster.
“We’re really pleased with where we stand right now and what we were able to accomplish,” Neander said.
Naturally, they have more to do. They just don’t know when…