Tampa Bay Rays continue to build towards the future

By ericschmidt

Tampa Bay Rays fans knew this season, several key players were going to leave through free agency or trades. Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena departed to sign with other teams. P Joaquin Benoit is now a member of the White Sox. Despite taking some short term hits, the Tampa Bay Rays have made some pretty shrewd moves and continue to build towards the future.

The Matt Garza trade brought five players that should contribute with in a few years. And yesterday it was reported that two Tampa Bay Rays free agents finally signed. RP Chad Qualls signed a one year deal with the san Diego Padres worth $2 million dollars for one season. In return the Rays will get a compensatory sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of this years MLB draft.

Last evening, news broke that the New York Yankees have finally signed RP Rafael Soriano, one of the highest remaining free agents of the offseason. Soriano’s contract is a remarkable 3 year $35 million dollars. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last week that the team would not mortgage the future by signing Soriano, despite Soriano stating he would be willing to accept a set up role with the club. This just shows how you cannot take anything a team spokesman says at face value. In return for Soriano, the Rays will now have the 31st pick in the first round in this year’s draft as compensation for losing the closer who recorded 45 saves for the Rays last season.

And for those Rays fans who wanted the club to retain all of these players, here is a staggering figure for you, of the 9 Rays free agents which have signed contracts, those contracts total 19 years of duration and the full value of those contracts are worth a staggering $215 million dollars. And that figure does not include the signings of Grant Balfour, Willy Aybar and Lance Cormier as of yet.

I feel that the Rays have done the best that they could do given the circumstances and I seriously doubt the moves are finished. I have faith that the front office understands what it is doing. The Garza trade allowed a spot on the roster for Jeremy Hellickson, a move that was overdue. These were a series of wise moves for the Rays that are putting together a team that might make another run in 2012 or 2013. However, I am not ruling 2011 out. This is still going to be a very competitive team with one of the best young starting pitching staffs in baseball.

I realize that some Rays fans are having flashbacks to the days of old and are thinking that 2011 is going to be completely lost, the team will be lucky to win 75 games this year. This is not the Rays team of old, have some faith in the moves of the front office and the young talent that this team has groomed. I can easily understand the mindset of what some long time Rays fans must be thinking, I’m also a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans and after a 3-13 season in 2009, thoughts of the Hugh Culverhouse days flashed into my head. However, look at the season the Buccaneers had this year with very young talent, in a season when not very many analysts predicted them to win more than 6 games.

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