MLB Tampa Bay Rays

5 Players the Tampa Bay Rays Could Sever Ties With This Offseason

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5 Players the Tampa Bay Rays Could Sever Ties With This Offseason

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays, the perpetual “David” to the AL East's “Goliath”, have routinely overcome payroll discrepancies and turned into perennial pennant contenders. There are several factors that have contributed to the success of the franchise in recent years, not the least of which is General Manager Andrew Friedman.

Friedman assumed his current role with the organization after the 2005 season, the Rays' eighth consecutive losing effort, and immediately laid down a path toward greener pastures. The hiring of Joe Maddon as manager, nailing draft picks and signing solid role players to short-term contracts have combined to completely turn the team around.

The last season in which the Rays finished lower than third in the division was 2007. In fact, over the last six seasons, they have won two division titles, clinched two wild-card spots and made one appearance in the World Series. All of these accomplishments have come with the franchise maintaining a payroll among the bottom third of the league.

In order to win while facing such financial inadequacies, a front office must also know when to cut ties with players and discover more cost-effective alternatives. Friedman has excelled in this department during his time as a general manager and will need to do so once again this offseason. Just last year, he traded away All-Star starting pitcher James Shields and let former first round pick B.J. Upton walk away in free agency. The Rays still managed to win 92 games and secure a place in the playoffs.

Nate Miller is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoRant, add him to your network on Google or like him on Facebook

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5. Jamey Wright

Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season was the 18th for veteran Jamey Wright. Tampa Bay signed him to a one-year deal back on January 22. The right-hander delivered a strong year out of the bullpen by posting a 3.09 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 over 70 innings. Even though Wright will be 39 years of age at the start of the 2014 season, he is likely to land a contract worth more than the $900K the Rays paid for services rendered.

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4. Jose Molina

Brad Rempel - USA TODAY Sports

Jose Molina is seven years the senior of younger brother Yadier. While definitely not at the All-Star level of his sibling, he is among the better defensive backstops in the league and very valuable as a part-time player. A 38 year old catcher will probably not command a huge salary, but he is likely to receive more than the Rays are willing or able to pay.

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3. Kelly Johnson

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

The Rays came to terms with Kelly Johnson on a one-year, $2.45 million contract back in February of this year. For the most part, this turned out to be another efficient signing for Friedman as Johnson smacked 16 homers and drove in 52 runs while taking the field at four different positions. As the team has several in-house options around the diamond, it seems likely that the 31-year-old will be moving on in free agency.

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2. Fernando Rodney

Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately for the Rays front office, Fernando Rodney was under control for another year after his historic 2012. Now, after a combined 85 saves over the last two seasons, the hard-throwing closer will certainly be looking for a more lucrative deal than the two-year, $4.25 million contract that he originally signed with Tampa Bay.

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1. David Price

Brad Rempel - USA TODAY Sports

David Price is a Cy Young Award winner, three-time AL All-Star and in the middle of his prime. However, all of those things have now combined to place the stellar southpaw beyond the Rays' budget limitations. He is under team control for the next two years but is on track to make big bucks. Price earned north of $10 million in 2013. The word has been out for quite some time that Andrew Friedman is looking to deal his “ace”.